New BEAM reference period

BEAM participants have until 21 June 2021 to change over to the new reference period of 1 January to 31 December.

Under the terms of the BEAM scheme, farmers had to reduce the bovine nitrogen production by 5% on their farm between 1 July 2020 and 30 June 2021. The 5% reduction is based on the bovine nitrogen produced on the holding between 1 July 2018 and 30 June 2019. So far over 6,000 farmers have applied to defer their reference period. Sit down and go through the figures. The Department of Agriculture has posted letters to alert farmers to their own situation and whether they are likely to hit the required reduction by 30 June 2021. If you are in doubt, contact your adviser.

There are just two weeks left until you need to make the decision to switch reference period. Farmers who wish to avail of the deferral may do so via the portal.

Separating heifers and bulls

May and December are the months where I usually get calls from finishers with heifers ending being in calf. Sometimes it works out and the farmer takes back the heifer without any argument but sometimes there is a dispute about where the heifer got bred, how much the daily rate should be, who pays for testing and mart fees.

The reality is heifers, particularly traditional breeds, can hit puberty as young as six months of age. Calves born in November are now coming to seven months of age and should be split up from their male counterparts. This is the easiest way of avoiding that dreaded phone call to say that you have to take back an in-calf heifer or worse again get the phone call to say something happened her at calving and you have to pay vets fees with no heifer to take back.

I have seen some farmers attach scanning certs to say heifers are not in calf as an extra sales pitch when selling. Scanning is a relatively cheap task to carry out and will give you peace of mind when selling. Some marts in the west offer this service as animals enter the mart but will only pick up pregnancies over 30 days. I have heard of some farmers injecting estrumate at sale time but this can sometimes result in sick animals where embryos are at a stronger stage, and should be avoided.


For dairy beef calves, you need to be looking at the first dose being given around eight weeks after turnout.

Artificially reared calves don’t have as much immunity to worms as suckler-bred calves so having a dosing plan is important. Everybody has a responsibility to make sure that resistance doesn’t become a serious issue on our farms.

Taking a faecal sample is a good way of determining whether you need to dose or not. Getting a fresh sample is important. Putting calves up in the mornings and letting them walk away is a good way of collecting samples.

Take five to 15 samples per group to get a representative sample. Samples must reach the lab within 24 hours of taking them. Take the samples early in the week to avoid them sitting over the weekend in the lab.