Maximising Profit from Dairying

At our successful dairy conference entitled “Maximising Profit from Dairying” that was held in Kildalton College in February 2010 a large number of local dairy farmers participated in a lively discussion, kindly chaired by Pat O’Keefe of the Irish Farmers Journal.

Brett Dairy Conference Panel Dairy nutritionist Paddy McCarthy from DSM Nutrition set the scene by highlighting the issues to be considered when cows are being turned to grass. We welcomed our customer and local Clonmel dairy farmer Denis Corcoran to our panel who offered very practical advice on maximising the use of grass and the benefits of measuring grass. Denis and his wife Margaret run a winter and spring milk herd and have been involved in measuring grass for 15 years.  Denis contributes to the Grasswatch section of the Irish Farmers Journal.

Speakers (L-R) Paddy McCarthy, Denis Corcoran, Pat O' Keefe, James J. Brett, Padraig French and Heather Peppard

Paddy and Denis then joined Padraig French, Dairy Enterprise Leader of Teagasc, Moorepark and Heather Peppard, Nutritionist with Bretts to further debate the topical issue of optimum feeding of dairy cows at grass.  We are pleased to be able to bring you a synopsis of the topics discussed during the evening and a quick summary of the key messages from the panel.

Bretts Dairy Conference 2010


Left: A selection of the audience that attended the dairy conference in Kildalton College





Q: Is citrus pulp a suitable feed on its own?

Padraig French said that citrus pulp was adequate in small quantities. Nutritionists Paddy and Heather highlighted that citrus pulp is high in sugars, low in effective fibre and that it should be balanced with other feed ingredients.  Citrus is not ideal with grass as it can cause acidosis leading to dropping butterfat %.  Acidosis can cause cows to get sick and go off feed leading to lower milk yield.


Q: What is the solution to freshly calved heifers and cows losing excess body condition?

Pat O’Keefe directed this to Padraig French for his opinion and he advised farmers to milk these animals once per day.  Heather challenged Padraig on this advice and he defended his position by saying that additional meal feeding will make the cow produce more milk and lead to further loss of condition.  The farmer audience were asked who would use the ‘once a day milking’ strategy as a management tool on their farms but the response was that it wasn’t a practical suggestion.  These freshly calved cows require more feed to match the energy gap.


Bretts Dairy Conference 2010



Left:  James J. Brett welcomes Pat Farrell and David Foran  





Key Messages from the Panel:

Denis Corcoran - Walk your farm every week to assess grass supply and don't have a fear of being wrong.  Ask for advice and plan ahead to make early decisions.

Padraig French - Follow the Spring Rotation Planner as outlined by Teagasc, aiming to have 60% of your farm grazed by St. Patrick's Day.

Paddy McCarthy - Review silage stocks and make decisions now to feed cows correctly.  Grass growth is poor so monitor grass supply so that you don't run out of it.

Heather Peppard - You as farmers are responsible for the feeding, health and welfare of your cow.  Feed to maximise milk yield and increase farm profit

Bretts Dairy Conference 2010



Right:  James J. Brett (second from left) and Bretts Sales Representative for South Kilkenny, Michael Luttrell, welcome local dairy farmers who attended the conference.






Bretts Dairy Conference 2010



Left:  John Dillon from Bretts and James J. Brett welcome dairy farmers from Callan and Windgap




Bretts Dairy Conference 2010



Left:  James J. Brett and Bretts Nutritionist, Heather Peppard, with local dairy farmers.

Contact details

Brett Brothers Ltd.,
Co. Kilkenny.
Tel: 056-7755300

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