How do you get a rolling herd performance of 8,800 litres per cow, a calving interval of 382 days and locomotion scores of 0 or 1 for 93% of the herd? Those are just some of the achievements at College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise’s (CAFRE) new Dairy Centre at its Greenmount Campus, home to a herd of 150 autumn-calving cows. Construction began in 2012, with the aim of providing a dairy unit that would not only meet the fast-growing technological and efficiency demands of the dairy industry but also meet the highest standards of animal welfare and health and safety for its students. With over 550 full- and part-time annual enrolments on its further and higher education courses, the Centre is a busy and productive environment. Over the course of the academic year, students are engaged in routine duties, including milking, feeding cows, heat detection and calving. Technology is at the heart of the operation and remains a focus for CAFRE’s technologists and development advisers. To that end, the Centre incorporates over 40 different technologies; demonstrations of these to students, farmers and the industry are a key component of the college’s work. Just some of the areas of work that are benefiting dairy farmers are milk-pump efficiency linked to the heat-exchange unit, slurry management and gaseous losses, the carbon footprint of milk production, and financially quantified benefits from technology. To date, over 4,000 farmers and industry representatives have visited the Centre for events incorporating training, networking, discussion forums and information-gathering.


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