O'Donnell, S.; Shalloo, L.; Butler, A. M.; Horan, B.
October 2008
Journal of Farm Management;Oct2008, Vol. 13 Issue 6, p419
The objective of this study was to examine the opportunities and limitations facing Irish dairy producers based on a survey of 800 suppliers from the largest dairy processor in Ireland. The survey sample was randomly selected based on a proportionate representation of suppliers broken down by quota size, supplier region and system of production. The sample was subsequently broken into five quota categories to investigate the effect of scale on survey variables. Findings reveal an average milk yield of 4,808 l per cow and 8,346 l per hectare at an average stocking rate of 1.78 (LU/ha). Stocking rate, milk yield per cow and per hectare increased as quota size increased. Furthermore the proportion of farmers paying for labour increased as quota size increases with results showing that 55% of all respondents had paid labour on their farms. A successor has been identified on 45% of farms and in greater frequency on larger farms. Despite the relatively small scale of enterprises, only 15 percent of dairy farms had off-farm employment. Of those surveyed, 20% have winter housing facilities capable of holding more animals than they currently have, with 5% having capacity for more than 15 additional cows. The results show considerable underutilisation of land with potential for increases in productivity through increased per animal production, increased stocking density and increased specialisation in dairying.


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