A proposal in the Nitrates Action Program to pool organic N excretion rates from dairy cows in connection with milk yield / cow will result in calves that are too small and unprofitable for beef production, the Irish Holstein Friesian Association (INHFA) has claimed.
The public consultation on the government’s controversial proposals for the next Nitrate Action Program was concluded yesterday, with the IHFA calling the proposed gang system “unwise”, “unfair” and “incorrect”.
In the negotiations on the nitrate exemption, the EU Commission raised problems with Ireland’s approach of a uniform organic production figure for dairy cows and asked Ireland to assess the allocation of an elimination factor based on milk yield.
In response, the government suggested three areas: 1. 6,500 kg.
The new bandwidths will be crucial in deciding which stocking rates farmers can operate on their holdings, 4,500 kg and 6,500 kg.
“The proposals must take into account the financial impact on farming families, the rural economy and the value of exports,” it said.
“From our point of view, the proposed approach of the banding system is not correct.
“The improvements made through better genetics, feed efficiency and nitrogen use efficiency are largely marginalized in the proposals.”
One of the IHFA’s criticisms of the proposals was their possible impact on the quality of the calves drawn from the dairy herd for beef production.
The calf quality from the “herd cohort” in Volume 1 is largely “not transferable” to the beef system.
“Calves are too small and unable to achieve profitable goals.
“They invariably have to be worn six months longer to reach carcass weight and are not suitable for fat coverage, which results in severe penalties.
“This raises another question of whether beef from the dairy herd is sustainable,” it said.
IHFA also said that dairy cows in band 3 are on the order of 14 percent more efficient than cows and band 2 and 40 percent more efficient than cows and band 1.
“The proposals cause the herds in Volume 1 to be increased to the order of 12 percent (with lower yields) and the numbers in Volume 3 to be reduced by 19 percent, which has twice the production of milk solids of Volume 1,” it says in the template.
IHFA also criticized the banding proposal as “unfair”, adding that “the message of the proposed bands seems to be that high stocking rates at low outputs are acceptable and the way forward”.
The effects of the banding proposals on nitrate leaching should also be considered.
“This is particularly a risk to water quality when intensive stocking rates are practiced on the milking platform that lead to bare floors, which is often associated with a cohort of dairy farmers in the lower band,” it says.