Dairy Discussion Group Reaps Rewards

IRELAND - The winning group of the EBI €100 Dairy Discussion Group Competition is the Blackwater Discussion Group.
calendar icon 9 January 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

The €15,000 prize fund was presented to the winning group at Cork Marts centre in Rathcormack, Fermoy, Co. Cork, yesterday evening, Tuesday 6 January. Five other category winners each received €5,000, reports the Agriculture and Food Development Authority, Teagasc.

The EBI €100 competition promotes better breeding on dairy farms and is sponsored by ACCBank. It is run in association with Teagasc, ICBF and the Irish Farmers’ Journal. Over 60 groups, consisting of more than 800 individual dairy farmers, from Kerry to Louth and from Donegal to Wexford, participated in the competition. In a new revised format this year, the groups underwent a rigorous evaluation process involving three stages:

Stage 1 - Desktop analysis of their applications, evaluating technical, genetic and group performance. From this, 32 groups were short-listed for Stages 2 and 3 of the competition.

Stage 2 - Two written case studies to assess the members’ financial and breeding knowledge.

Stage 3 – Interview with three judges which focused on aspects of the groups breeding performance during the 2008 season.

The winning group consists of 20 dairy farmers based in counties Cork, Tipperary, Galway and Waterford. The Group, chaired by Kevin Twomey, Ballyhooly, Fermoy, has an average herd size of 240 cows. The average herd EBI for the group is €88. In 2008, milk sales per cow averaged 432 kg milk solids while the Group’s common profit averaged 23 cent per litre.

Speaking at the presentation Teagasc dairy programme manager Matt Ryan said: “This competition promotes better breeding of dairy cows to help farmers improve profits. Individuals working collectively as groups have yielded better results in terms of improving overall EBI. The winners have achieved an average calving interval of 386 days with members having an average of 83 per cent of their cows calved in a six-week period.”

General Manager, Agri-Finance, at ACCBank, Paddy Horgan congratulated the Blackwater Discussion Group on winning the competition. He said: “The new format in 2009 has worked well. As sponsors, ACCBank is encouraged by the level of participation and the effectiveness of the competition in highlighting the concepts involved in EBI and the contribution EBI makes to profitable dairy farming. We wish to compliment all the Groups who participated on their active involvement. ”

Brian Wickham, chief executive of ICBF, said that with over 800 dairy farmers participating in the competition, it provides valuable feedback to ICBF to help the organisation develop products to support dairy farmers. He said: “This competition allows us to interact, in a meaningful way, with a large number of dairy farmers and has reinforced the benefits of generating information and reports through the Herd Plus programme for discussion groups.”

Jack Kennedy from the Irish Farmers’ Journal said: “Discussion groups are a very effective way of getting farmers to work together to reinforce the benefits of EBI for improving performance on Irish dairy farms.”

The members of the dairy discussion groups also visited Teagasc Moorepark Research Centre in Fermoy, County Cork, yesterday as part of a two-day mini-open day on animal breeding, disease control and milk quality.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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