French breeders discover dairy farming in Ireland

French breeders discover dairy farming in Ireland

To discuss their breeding techniques, European breeders came together in a common project called “Resilience for Dairy”. The first study tour took place in Ireland. The green meadows that attracted nine French breeders finally revealed some of their secrets … nitrogen!

European project Resistance to lactation (R4D) brings together 120 dairy farms from 15 different countries working together for the sustainability of the dairy sector. “Many solutions already exist, but they are scattered among breeders. The idea behind R4D is to meet, discuss and share initiatives from one country to another,” explains Valerie Brocard, project coordinator of the Livestock Institute.

The R4D project promotes cooperation and exchange between European breeders to improve the resilience of their farms. (© Immunity to Dairy)

Work/life balance: European breeders preferred

Works at Immunity in breeding, advisors in each country identified farmers’ needs. For the French, the most urgent are (in order of priority):

– Improve work/life balance

– Find solutions to better manage the economic efficiency of farms

– Reduce daily on-call work (or at least have more flexibility)

Combined among the 15 countries, the items that stand out the most are: and working conditions and the breeder’s well-being, environmental and ecological aspects, and the fact that it is compatible with social needs (especially from the point of view of animal welfare).

For French breeders, resilience is defined as the ability to overcome a shock by modifying their practices to adapt to a new context.

Irish Dairy Farming

After two meetings of pilot farms in their respective countries, around fifty European breeders met for three days. Ireland Many farms to visit.

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Nine of them were French and impressed at first sight. “These are very simple systems with few structural loads”, said Béatrice Cassius, a breeder in Pas-de-Calais, for example. Maintenance of paths, division of parcels, measurement of grass height: management of pastures is well managed. On the other hand, nitrogen fertilization and absence of legumes were quite surprising. “It’s an intensive system dependent on ammonium nitrate,” marveled Arnaud Senechel himself in a lawn system at Ille-et-Villain.

The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland: Two Policies

Since the end of the quotas, The Republic of Ireland Production leads. Breeders produce “cheap” milk there, betting on the productivity of grass with high levels of inputs, and group cows accordingly. But in the last couple of years, we’ve felt like a backpedal on the environmental drive and the drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Hence the recent work on nitrogen and the introduction of legumes in grasslands.

Northern Ireland (UK) pushed its breeders into production under a quota-free system. But the system there is based on year-round milk production, a larger share of feed supplied, and hence higher production costs.

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