GII Supporting Sustainable Growth

Thursday 08th October 2015
Collaborating with our farmers for optimum results

With the abolition of EU milk quotas in March 2015, Ireland is set to increase its dairy output by more than 50% over the next five years. At Glanbia Ingredients Ireland (GII), we’re committed to seizing this opportunity while leading the international field in sustainable dairying. In order to support our farmers through this ambitious plan, we have teamed up with Teagasc, the leading agricultural research authority in Ireland, to deliver our Joint Farm Development Programme 2014 – 2017.

The Farm Development Programme, delivered by 28 Teagasc Dairy Advisors and nine GII Farm Development Managers, has six main objectives:
• Improved cost control and farm profitability achieved through better financial and business management skills
• Increased grass growth with maximised forage usage
• Improved herd fertility leading to optimised calving pattern
• Increased milk solids production per cow and per hectare
• Improved milk quality to meet more challenging market requirements
• Maximised compliance with GII’s Open Source® Sustainability standard

An integral part of the Programme was the establishment of eleven Monitor Farms. These GII supplier farms are used to showcase best practice in the delivery of the core initiatives. Each Monitor Farmer works to an agreed physical and financial plan supported by GII’s dedicated farm advisor team. A number of Farm Walks are hosted each year by participating farmers outlining their performance and plans, and updates are shared with our 4,800 farmer suppliers through various publications.

Friday, October 2nd saw current monitor farmer, Pat Dillon, host a group of over 80 GII suppliers at his farm in Cuffesgrange, Co. Kilkenny. The agenda for the event addressed the topics of planning a resilient system, managing cash flow this year and next and cow management between now and next spring. Richard O’Brien, Teagasc Programme Manager, presented the farm’s recent developments whilst both Liam Phelan, GII Farm Development Manager, and William O’Toole, the farm’s dedicated GII Milk Quality Manager, were present to provide insight and answer questions from visiting farmers. According to O’Brien, dairy cow numbers on the Dillon’s farm had previously been static during the quota era resting at 80-90 cows, but have since increased to 112 and the farm has further plans to expand. He explained that this expansion is dependent on a number of factors with the most significant being the amount of grass the farm is capable of growing.

Shane McElroy, Glanbia’s Veterinarian, who provides technical veterinary support and training to our ruminant business managers and milk advisory team, presented seasonal herd health management tips to the group.

“This is the ideal time of year for farmers to review animal health performance on-farm in order to maximize the quality of milk output from the herd.”

A further five Farm Walks are due to take place this month alone at GII farms across the country. GII values this Programme as a medium through which our farmers can acquire practical information and improve their knowledge on a range of topics that affect the delivery of a sustainable farm. Coupled with our world-leading Open Source® Sustainability and Quality Assurance Code, the Farm Development Programme is key in enabling our farmers to grow their output sustainably.