A key factor in payment rates increasing in the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP) is the incorporation of weight recording of cow-calf pairs.

This was previously the main element in the Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme-Sucklers (BEEP-S), but is now part of SCEP.

Action four - weighing and submission of weights to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) - requires farmers to weigh at least 80% of eligible animals born on the holding annually.

The 80% figure is based both on the farm’s reference number and the number of calves born annually.

For example, if the number of calves born annually exceeds the reference number, then the 80% weight recording requirement is based on the reference number of animals.

Where the number of calves born is lower than the reference number, then the 80% figure is based on the number of calves born on the holding. Three different scenarios are outlined in Table 1.

Where the number of calves born is lower than the reference number, farmers need to take care that they are still in a position to satisfy the requirement of having 70% of the yearly reference number of animals available for genotyping.

For example, if we use the example in Table 1 of the 2023 reference number being 10 animals and five calves born, then there needs to be two other animals in the herd that are not already genotyped.

Specific requirements

The terms and conditions of SCEP clearly outline the requirements and there are several important aspects to be mindful of.

  • All calves being submitted for weighing must have been born in the herd within each scheme year. Calves must be in the ownership and possession of the applicant since birth.
  • Calves must satisfy eligibility requirements, ie at least 50% of the yearly reference number calved on the holding must be eligible calves born between scheme year 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023 and every scheme year thereafter.
  • Calves must be alive at weighing and each calf must be unweaned and weighed with its dam on the applicant’s holding on the same day. Where a calf or cow dies before the calf reaches five months of age, this must be recorded on AIM and the 80% does not include such pairs.
  • The calf must be a minimum of 50 days old before it is eligible to be weighed.
  • Weights should be submitted within seven days of weighing and no later than 5.30pm on 1 November annually (includes online and postal records).
  • Submission of weights

    There are two options for herd owners to collect and record data. Participants can rent a scales from an approved field agent to undertake weighing or, alternatively, weights can be recorded on an owned, borrowed or third-party service model, whereby participants have access to a scales and are availing of the scales to weigh animals.

    Where availing of a rental model for recording weights, the terms and conditions advise using a central booking facility which can be found on www.weighing.ie.

    Herd owners are advised to use electronic options such as the ICBF webpage or other farm software packages for recording weight data, with these avenues cited as facilitating more accurate and timely recording of data.

    Hardcopy recording of data is permitted, but this must be recorded on a weight recording sheet provided by the ICBF. These sheets can be printed from an ICBF’s user account or ordered directly from the ICBF by emailing dafmschemes@icbf.com or calling 023-883 2883 during office hours of 9am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday.

    Online weight recording

    The SCEP weight recording portal can be accessed on the ICBF website by logging into your user account.

    If you have forgotten your password it can be redeemed by texting the word PASS to 089-457 7663 (your mobile number needs to be registered with the ICBF) or by using the contact details above.

    Once logged on, the weight recording portal can be accessed under the services dropdown at the top of the screen. You must register the scales prior to recording weights.

    Where animals have departed from the herd and these animals are not showing up to record weights, then the option is available to record weights under the heading ‘record events’ and ‘live weight’. Click on the ‘departed herd’ and weights can then be recorded here.