While the 2021 Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) closed in January for applicants in 2021, it’s important to remember the scheme conditions to maximise the 2021 payment.

The scheme is an important support to the suckler herd and an important part of farm income on many suckler farms.

The average payment per farm in 2020 was €1,700. There were 17,592 applications to the 2021 rollover scheme. Only people who fulfilled the conditions of the 2020 scheme were eligible to apply for the 2021 scheme.

There are a number of requirements for the scheme:

  • Recording calving details: farmers must record the sire of all calves born on the farm and include a calving score for each calf.
  • Genotyping animals: 60% of the reference number of animals needs to be genotyped each year. This means if you get paid on 20 cows you need to genotype 12 animals annually. These can be male or female and the ICBF sends out tags early in the year for genotyping purposes. Tags should be returned to the ICBF as soon as tagging is complete. If animals selected for tagging have been sold, tags for replacement animals can be ordered from the ICBF.
  • Completing surveys: surveys need to be completed on calving difficulty, calf vigour, health incidences, weanling quality, cow milkability, stock bull docility and functionality and reasons for culling. These can be filled out on paper and posted to ICBF or completed online via your HerdPlus account on www.icbf.com
  • Four- and five-star requirements: participants in BDGP are required to have 50% of the reference number of females in the herd genotyped four- or five-star on the replacement index by 31 October. Heifers must be 16 months or over on 31 October to be eligible. Details of the last evaluation run before 31 October will be published on 28 September. That means the last date for DNA samples to be submitted is 7 July 2021.
  • Payment rate: the payment rate is €142.50/ha for the first 6.66ha with the remaining eligible forage land paid at the rate of €120/ha. The eligible number of hectares you are entitled to claim on is calculated by dividing the number of cows that calved on your holding in 2014 by 1.5, up to the limit of the declared forage land on your BPS application. Once all the scheme requirements have been met, payment is issued in December.
  • Carbon navigator: a fully completed carbon navigator must be completed on the ICBF website annually. This covers areas such as grazing season length, fertiliser use and method of slurry spreading.
  • Stock bull/AI requirements: for applicants using a stock bull, at least one animal on the holding must be a genotyped four- or five-star bull on 30 June 2021. Where AI is being used, at least 80% of the AI being used on the farm must be from four- or five-star bulls on the replacement index or terminal index.
  • BEEP-S funding for 2021

    Some €40m in funding has been allocated to the Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme – Sucklers (BEEP-S) scheme in 2021. It has also come to be an important support to suckler farms and it’s a scheme that the majority of farmers are very happy with.

    Its core principle is weighing cows and calves to provide some important information for management decisions and also to feed much more weighing data into the ICBF database to strengthen the reliability of our breeding indices.

    To fulfil the requirements of the scheme, applicants must complete a number of mandatory and optional actions. Actions are outlined in Table 1.

    The cow and calf must be weighed on the same day before weaning and weights uploaded to the ICBF database by 1 November 2021.

    Scales must be registered with ICBF before weighing takes place. This action needs to be fully completed before any payment is made.

    Optional action one is feeding meal or vaccinating weanlings. If meal feeding is chosen, meal must be fed to weanlings four weeks in advance of weaning and two weeks after weaning.

    Meal dockets need to be kept for inspection purposes.

    If vaccinating for pneumonia is chosen, there are two protocols which you can follow. You are best to consult your vet as to the best option for your farm.

    The final optional action is faecal sampling cows for fluke detection. This must be completed by 1 October 2021.

    Applications must be completed via the agfood.ie portal and the closing date for applications is 26 April.

    Dairy calf-to-beef weighing scheme

    This is a new scheme in 2021, with €5m in funding allocated in its first year. The scheme was introduced to encourage farmers to weigh dairy-beef calves during their lifetime to monitor performance. The scheme is open to male dairy x dairy calves and male and female dairy x beef calves.

    Applicants must weigh a minimum of five dairy x calves to be eligible for payment. The maximum number of calves per applicant is 20. The payment rate is €20/head so the maximum payment in 2021 is €400.

    Ten days

    Calves must be in the applicant’s herd 10 days before weighing and they must be a minimum of 12 weeks of age before they can be weighed.

    Only calves born in 2021 are eligible for payment. Weights must be loaded on to the ICBF database within seven days of weighing and the scales must be registered with ICBF.

    Applications need to be submitted prior by 26 April and should be completed via the agfood.ie portal.

    Once all scheme requirements have been met, payment is issued in December.