Technology Demonstration Farms (TDFs) provide a network of local farms which allow other farmers the opportunity to see new technology and innovations which they could adopt on their own farms.
Over the past year the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) organised a series of more than 170 TDF training events at TDFs right across Northern Ireland in the Dairy, Beef, Sheep, Crop, Environmental and Pig sectors with excellent feedback and CAFRE is continuing to take bookings for future visits to all of its TDF farms.
One of the most popular Dairy TDFs is David and Alan Irwin of Redhouse Holsteins at Benburb, Co Tyrone who was appointed under the theme Genetic Selection and Fertility Management. Redhouse Holsteins is a 170 cow pedigree dairy herd which is milked 3 times a day through a 20 point herringbone parlour. Milk production figures for 2021 were 13,414 litres/cow at 4.36% Butterfat and 3.35% Protein. The combined fat and protein figure was 1040kg/cow. David has been genomic testing females in the herd since the introduction of genomic testing in the UK about 9 years ago. The Redhouse Holsteins herd is ranked 11th for Profitable Lifetime Index (£PLI) index in the UK and last autumn had 9 of the top 20 heifers in the UK database of more than 12,000 animals for Dairy Wellness Profit [DWP] index. He is awaiting samples this calving season, but of the first few back they include the number 1 DWP animal in the UK at 1251, a daughter of Peak Wheelhouse.
David says: “I am passionate about breeding a highly profitable herd of fertile, high production, long life pedigree Holstein cows. I also enjoy welcoming groups of farmers on to our farm such as a recent group from Co Antrim. This gives me the opportunity to explain what we are doing on the farm and to promote discussion on many different aspects of our farming practices including breeding. I am looking forward to having many other groups visit us in the weeks ahead.”
The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the European Union are funding the establishment of this network of Technology Demonstration Farms across Northern Ireland as part of the Rural Development Programme under the Innovation Technology Evaluation Demonstration (ITED) Scheme.
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