Here at Salesian Agricultural College, Pallaskenry, Co Limerick we have a deep history of agricultural education and dairy production, extending right back to 1919. Today we offer a range of agricultural and mechanisation courses for school leavers (17-19 year olds) embarking on a career in agriculture. As part of the network of six agricultural colleges in Ireland, we operate a large dairy herd comprising 460 dairy cows. Given that grazed grass is our natural advantage, all cows calve compactly in a 12 week period, with 90% calving in weeks 1-6. Calving commences in the latter days of January, with cows grazing within two days of calving. We are achieving 301 days grazing each year and growing 16.2 tonnes of grass dry matter per hectare. Production is 468 Kgs of milk solids per cow, we get paid on kilos of fat and protein with a deduction for volume. Students get practical hands on experience of managing a large grass based dairy herd. Sustainability is key in our operations, from selective dry cow therapy, incorporation of clover in grazing swards, use of protected urea and variable rate milk pumps & heat recovery to name but a few practices which improve sustainability.
By Derek O’Donoghue, Principal, Salesian Agricultural College, Pallaskenry, County Limerick