Lakeland Dairies launches development programme for dairy farmers in Northern Ireland

Lakeland Dairies has launched a dairy development programme for its milk suppliers in the north. It was launched on the farm of supplier Alan Irwin from Fintona (second left). Included (from left) are Colin Kelso, Lakeland Dairies vice-chairman, Niall McCarron, dairy development programme manager and Alo Duffy, Lakeland Dairies chairman. Photo: Jay McGaghran.

THE Lakeland Dairies co-operative has launched a new dairy development programme for its milk suppliers in Northern Ireland.

The initiative is aimed at maximising efficiency and profitability on a sustainable basis for the future and will see Lakeland work in close association with the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE).

Working alongside and across existing CAFRE business development groups, the programme is designed to further assist suppliers in their improvement of on-farm efficiency, leading to sustainable and profitable growth in their farming businesses.

The programme will use the findings of locally based research that is relevant to the needs of Lakeland Dairies' milk supplying farmers in Northern Ireland. It includes technical advice on grassland management, milk solids, dairy herd fertility, quality management and sustainable expansion, among other important areas.

A dedicated dairy specialist, Niall McCarron, will work with Lakeland milk suppliers in an advisory capacity. He will also provide a planning and technical service to potential new entrants to milk production.

The programme - which will include a variety of workshops, farm walks and open days exploring dairy farm structures and management practices for milk suppliers was launched on the farm of Alan Irwin outside Fintona in Co. Tyrone.

He farms 200 cows which calve all year round and the current herd performance is 7,000 litres per cow with butterfat at 4.0 per cent and protein at 3.46 per cent. Alan plans to expand the herd over the next five years with an aim of milking close to 300 cows by 2023.

Lakeland Dairies' chairman Alo Duffy said: “I'm delighted to see this important initiative being launched because it's essential for dairy farmers to be able to make decisions based on solid expertise and advice and that is exactly what our programme is supporting.”

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