National Beef Welfare Scheme: I have received a lot of questions and queries in relation to the new National Beef Welfare Scheme (replacement for BEEP scheme). Many of the queries are in relation to whether there will be any changes made to the IBR element of the scheme. With such a short turnaround to the closing date of 12 September, it’s highly unlikely there will be any changes made to the two mandatory actions - meal feeding and IBR sampling. Farmers are frustrated that they can’t see merit in sampling their herd, but speaking to a few farmers who have had the experience of a bad IBR outbreak they would have been very happy to identify the problem in their herd and start a vaccination programme. There is a reduced penalty schedule under this scheme and farmers who fail to comply with both actions will receive a 10% penalty and no payment on the action not completed. This would mean a farmer with 40 cows would receive a payment of €1,230 for their farm if the IBR testing wasn’t completed, as opposed to the maximum payment of €1,700 if all actions were completed. It’s a very simple two-click application process on, with the number of cows that calved in your herd between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023. This will be the number of cows you will be paid on in the scheme. See Farm Finance (P55) for more.

Housed cattle: A lot of cattle have been housed over the last week, especially on suckler farms in the northwest. With temperatures remaining warm, keep an eye on any young calves or weanlings that have been housed with cows. Ideally, these calves or weanlings should have access to a bedded creep area. They should also be fed meal to reduce the stress levels around the change of surroundings and the change in diet. Don’t be tempted to wean straight away once housed. Too much stress could bring other issues such as pneumonia, so better to let the cattle settle in for a few days first. The forecast is better for the weekend and early next week, so hopefully the current break in grazing will be short-lived and a long autumn grazing season awaits.

Clostridia Vaccine: Around this time of year, there are always a number of incidences of blackleg and clostridia disease, which result in sudden death of weanlings. This is especially frustrating where weanlings are coming ready for sale. It’s sometimes surprising the number of farms that don’t bother with a clostridia vaccine. If clostridia disease has been a problem on your farm in the past, it’s important that you vaccinate against it to prevent sudden deaths. The 10-in-1 vaccines are the best to use, in that they give the maximum protection. It’s a two-shot programme and it’s very important to follow up with the second shot four to six weeks after the initial shot. This vaccine will give six months of cover for a number of these diseases. Take care when injecting that you use gloves and that the needle is changed often. Unsightly vaccination lumps don’t look good in the sales ring and can lead to losses in carcase weight and cut quality. Consult with your vet as to the risk level on the farm and whether to vaccinate or not.