Some of the key areas that commonly arise for farmers in the Bord Bia audit include medicine usage and purchase records, farm safety risk assessments, and water tests.

Below is an outline and series of steps that will get the farm ready for the inspection or audit.

What happens if I am found non-compliant?

Minor non-compliances are, as the name suggests, small faults that can be found in the inspection but the inspection will still pass, provided the score is above 60%. However, these issues must be dealt with before the next audit.

Major non-compliances must be corrected in the time agreed with the auditor. This is known as the close-out period and is typically 30 days from the date of the audit, but extensions can be granted depending on circumstances.

Animal remedies

The most common reason for beef, sheep and dairy members being non-compliant during their audit relates to the recording of animal remedy usage.

Having no records of remedy usage is a major non-compliance; an incomplete register of remedy usage is considered a minor non-compliance.

What farmers need to record

Animal remedy usage can be recorded in any one of the following formats:

  • The Animal Remedies Record section of the Bovine Herd Register (BHR).
  • Computer-based records.
  • The Bord Bia remedies usage record in the Bord Bia Farm Book and (for dairy only) the Bord Bia Tube Usage Register. (call the Helpdesk on 01-524 0410 to get a record book posted out.)
  • For animal remedy usage records, you must record the following:

  • Date of administration.
  • Name of medicine.
  • Quantity given.
  • Identification of animal.
  • Name of person giving the medicine/remedy or the name of the prescribing vet.
  • Date of end of withdrawal period. A common mistake is entering the number of withdrawal days instead of the date of the end of the withdrawal period.
  • Where an individual animal is treated, the identity of the animal must be clearly documented, for example using the tag number or freeze brand.

    Where the remedy is administered to a group of animals, it must be possible to clearly identify each animal in the group from the relevant herd register (eg all calves born from 1 January to 31 March only, or “all replacement weanling heifers”).

    Animal remedy purchases

    Not having animal remedy purchase records (either no records or incomplete records) is another common non-compliance among beef and sheep farmers.

    Purchase records should be kept by either using computer-based records, a manual such the Bord Bia Farm Book, or by retaining vet’s prescriptions for the previous six months.

    The following details must be included:

  • Date of purchase.
  • Medicine name.
  • Quantity purchased
  • Name and address of the supplier.
  • The auditor will need to see two pages of the most recent animal remedies both bought and used.

    If using a computer package, then the equivalent of two pages will need to be provided.

    Records should also correspond to some degree with what is stored in your medicine cabinet.

    Farm safety

    Another common reason for beef and sheep members being non-compliant is due to not having a completed or up-to-date farm safety risk assessment FSRA.

    Also, where there are three or more employees on the farm, members must have an up-to-date farm safety statement (FSS).

    Having a complete FSRA/FSS is a legal requirement, aimed at reducing the risk of injury or ill health for all who work on the farm, or who are affected by the work.

    The FSRA form can be downloaded and printed from the Health and Safety Authority website.

    The form can also be completed online at

    Safe water (dairy)

    Dairy farmers who use water from a private well for dairy washing must have evidence of a water test report for microbiological contamination. This is the second most common non-compliance among dairy farmers.

    Enterococci and E coli must be absent in 100ml and the test must have been conducted in the last three years.

    Farmers using water from a group water scheme do not require a test report.

    The third most common major non-compliance among dairy farmers is an absence of potable water for hand washing and washing milk contact surfaces. This must be readily available for optimum hygiene and milk quality.

    On-farm audits

    In line with the new public health measures announced by the Government in April, Bord Bia physical on-farm audits can recommence on 17 May.

    Members of the Sustainable Assurance Schemes for Beef, Lamb and Dairy will now have the option of either an on-farm audit or a remote audit, whichever they are most comfortable with.

    Both on-farm and remote audits carry a maximum certification period of 18 months.

    Where possible, remote audits are preferable to minimise risk.

    Farmers with an upcoming audit will be contacted by their auditor at least two weeks before their certification is due to expire. They can then decide if they wish to have an on-farm or a remote audit.

    COVID-19 safety

    In order to qualify for doing audits, auditors must first complete training on safety procedures relating to COVID-19 and complete the Bord Bia Return To Audit Survey.

    Tracker app

    Auditors must also use the Government COVID Tracker App on the day of each audit to confirm that they are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms before arriving on farms.

    Responsibility also lies with the farmer being inspected to follow public health guidelines with regard to social distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette (coughing).

    Checklist for online audit

    For farmers who opt for a remote audit, these are the areas to watch out for when completing your remote audit to avoid unnecessary non-conformances and returns:

  • Completed FSRA showing revision date and signature plus at least two pages from machinery or other relevant section.
  • Completed Animal Health Plan for 2021.
  • Either proof of access to showing your current profile page OR a filled-in bovine herd register. Both left and right sides need to be shown, movements in and out, and knackery certs.
  • Animal remedy purchase receipts, especially vets’ prescriptions for the last six months or animal remedy purchases listed in the Bord Bia farm book, or a computer package, or similar.
  • Animal remedy usage records – Bord Bia needs to see two pages of the most recent remedies and that applies to both remedies bought and used. Records can be in the Bord Bia Farm Book, on a computer package, in the back of Bovine Herd Register, etc. Records should show all remedies that were used in the last six months. Records should also correspond to some degree to the photo of the open medicine store contents.
  • If using a computer package, then the equivalent of two pages of the Bord Bia farm book that shows the range of remedies used over the recent period is needed, eg dosing all the cattle at housing is one line in the Bord Bia Farm Book but it could be two pages in computer records because it lists the tag numbers of all cattle.
  • Pesticide records: last two pages of those records.
  • Feed records: photos of feed invoices or delivery dockets that shows feed merchant details and the ingredients of feed are useful to meet this requirement.
  • Stock

  • Detailed photos showing groups of young and old stock.
  • Current stock numbers and sales for 2020.
  • Stock passport showing the last test date.
  • Facilities and housing

  • Several photos of dairy, ideally from four corners – showing all areas washed down and tidy.
  • Same for milking parlour.
  • Photos of milk collection area – this is the area immediately outside the dairy door where the milk is collected.
  • Photos of crush and handling facilities clearly showing skulling gate and race.
  • Housing: detailed photos showing interior shots of all housing on farm – cubicles, slatted areas, etc.
  • Photos of calving gate and calf housing.
  • Feed storage – show beef cattle feed storage as well as dairy cow feed storage if applicable.
  • Photos of silage pit or silage bale storage area showing draining channels, where applicable.
  • Photo of first-aid kit must be open to show the contents of the kit (including eyewash).
  • Photo of medicine cabinet: open and labels clearly visible.
  • Clear pictures of records are essential to avoid having to send them again. If you require further assistance or guidance, contact the Bord Bia Helpdesk: 01-524 0410.


    Bord Bia audits are a chore that there is no avoiding for farmers, if they want to have cattle or sheep in the QA scheme when they get to the factory or milk processed by the co-op.

    It is not compulsory but farms that aren’t quality assured (QA) will have a reduced number of market options. This may not be so apparent when there is a good trade but when the market is weak, they will be a lower price. For most dairy farmers, being QA is compulsory.

    The audit itself is a bit like the NCT for cars. Most of what is needed is a legal requirement anyway but the inspection verifies that everything is in order or being put in order. It is a hassle for farmers getting everything ready for the inspection and putting right things the auditor identifies in the inspection. In this article, Bord Bia has identified the main problem areas that are found and hopefully this will help farmers to be ready.

    There are mixed views among farmers about the online audit. They are a pain for farmers not comfortable with technology or who don’t have adequate broadband or mobile signal.

    Other farmers, particularly those that also work off farm and are comfortable with technology, find that online audits are a more convenient option like online marts.

    When things get back to normal, Bord Bia should retain the online option and offer farmers a choice on which they prefer.