As the first of the early calves are hitting the ground, so too are the first genotyping samples as part of the new National Genotyping Programme. Update on the protocol is provided by ICBF here.

The key thing is to post the samples off very often, at least two or three times per week in order to avoid any hold-ups in the blue card being issued. Another key thing is to make sure you post the correct sample and not mix up the BVD sample with the DNA sample. The DNA sample will always be in a pink bottle. Envelopes are provided by tag suppliers and the cost of postage is €2.45 for up to 10 samples.

Male and female beef calves that are genotyped will have their commercial beef value (CBV) displayed on most mart boards this year. There is a very high correlation between the CBV and beef value, with any animal over €75 for CBV being equivalent to four or five stars. It is this CBV value that should be used to determine the value of calves, not dam breed, colour or appearance.


There is once again a shortage of vaccines on the market, this time IBR inactive vaccine seems to be scarce, with some vets reporting that supplies won’t be back in stock for some months.

It is possible to switch to a live vaccine now, but this has a six month cover so they will need to be done again in July. My understanding is that the herd could switch back to the IBR inactive vaccine next year if they want.

Other vaccines to be given at this time include leptospirosis and rotavirus scour vaccine.

This is one of the more expensive vaccines, but is effective at greatly reducing the impact of rotavirus scour. It’s important to remember that calves will need to be given colostrum and whole milk from vaccinated cows for at least a week after birth for the immunity to transfer to the calf.

Minding people and money

A key theme from the Positive Farmers Conference was around looking after mental and physical health and also money.

On money, now is the time to complete a cash flow budget for 2024 based on expected milk and stock sales and costs.

As outlined here, New Zealand expert Paul Bird implored farmers to really manage the budget and not be a passenger, as profitability bobs up and down depending on milk price and costs.

The main costs under a farmer’s control are feed and fertiliser, with feed a much easier cost to manage than fertiliser.

It takes a good bit of time and effort to get on top of costs and budgeting, but it’s a really worthwhile exercise and will be more important in the future.

Tírlan CEO Jim Bergin said he expects volatility to increase, and for the changes in price to be sharper and faster.

On health, the over-riding message was to look after your physical and mental health by going for regular medical check-ups, particularly if over 50 years of age, have activities outside of farming, prioritise healthy food and rest even at busy times.

Will Evans spoke about his mental health journey and how the combination of bad weather and other pressures led to a break-down. He now takes actions to prevent a reccurrence.