Upcoming College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) open dairy days will focus on six main themes, including: feed efficiency; benchmarking; and slurry utilisation.

The 200-cow CAFRE dairy herd is used in the education and training of full and part-time students in practical dairy herd husbandry and management skills.

The key areas of education include: milking routine; feeding; cow health; and analysing a herd’s physical and financial performance.

The dairy herd is also used to demonstrate best management practice to dairy farmers, through a series of knowledge transfer projects.

Currently the herd’s performance is assessed against a number of key performance indicators (KPIs), as follows:

  • Milk yield: 8,777L per cow per year;
  • Milk solids yield: 658kg per cow per year;
  • Concentrate feed use: 2,729kg per cow per year;
  • Milk from forage: 2,712L per cow;
  • Margin over concentrate: £1,863 per cow per year.

Dairy open days

Performance of the herd against the KPIs will be discussed at the CAFRE Dairy Open Days on January 24 and 25, 2018.

The tours will last for two hours, starting from 10:30am and running every 20 minutes each day. The last tour will start at 1:30pm. A light lunch will be available after.

The six stops on the tour of the Greenmount dairy farm will focus on:

  • Benchmarking dairy herd performance;
  • Replacement heifer rearing;
  • Slurry utilisation and forage production;
  • Dry cow management;
  • Cow and calf management at calving;
  • Feed efficiency and current herd diets.

Martin Mulholland, senior dairying technologist at CAFRE said the milking cows are currently being fed in three groups to achieve good feed efficiency.

He said: “The herd is split into fresh-calved cows and heifers, high-yielders and late lactation cows.

“The diet for the freshly calved and high-yield cows includes first and second cut silage, plus maize silage and dairy blend. Late lactation cows are being fed on second cut silage, plus in parlour concentrates to yield.”


Mulholland added that an “encouraging” proportion of the first batch of cows had been pregnancy diagnosed (PD-ed) in calf.

The first group inseminated were PD-ed on December 27 and January 3, with 27 out of 34 cows having presented PD-ed positive to date.

Breeding started on November 22, 2017. Submission rate for the first three weeks of the breeding season was 89% with 65 animals inseminated.

Further details are available through the Dairy Open Day app which can be downloaded online.