Since October 2021, Bord Bia has been offering free, online learning for farmers.

So far, almost 10,000 farmers have registered for the Farm Sustainability Learning Hub to access short courses on topics such as soil health, water quality, energy efficiency and farmland biodiversity.

Through surveying and talking to farmers, we learned that the majority would welcome guidance on how to improve their farm’s environmental sustainability further.

The learning hub has been developed with industry experts, including Teagasc, to support farmers on their path to improved farm sustainability.

Eight courses or modules are currently available, including a recently launched module on farmland pollinators (see the next section for more about pollinators).

In April, a series of animal welfare modules will become available.

A module on the Teagasc marginal abatement cost curve (MACC) is also set to reflect the revisions made to it last year.

All courses are available to certified members of the sustainable assurance schemes for beef, lamb, dairy, pigmeat and horticulture. Most courses can be completed in 45 minutes or less and members can access them online at

Farmland pollinators

The farmland pollinators module was developed with support from Teagasc and the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

It identifies ways farmers can manage the landscape on their farms in a more pollinator-friendly way and create a network of diverse and flower-rich habitats.

Pollination is the transfer of pollen from an anther of a plant to the stigma of a plant, which enables fertilisation and production of fruits and seeds.

Pollinators help to provide:

  • Full-bodied fruit and viable seeds.
  • Reliable yields of high-quality produce for farmers.
  • A range of affordable fruit and vegetable for consumers.
  • Plant diversity.
  • Most insect pollination on the island of Ireland is carried out by bees, mostly provided by wild bees.

    In Ireland, we have one managed pollinator – the honeybee – and over 100 different types of wild bee, of which 20% are bumblebees and 80% are solitary bees.

    Five actions for bee-friendly farming

    1. Maintain native flowering hedgerows.

    2. Allow wildflowers to grow around the farm.

    3. Provide nesting places for wild bees.

    4. Minimise artificial fertiliser use.

    5. Reduce pesticide inputs.

    Animal welfare

    Using guidelines from Animal Health Ireland and Teagasc, Bord Bia has developed a new set of courses on animal welfare to support farmers in implementing the highest standards of welfare on farm.

    Good animal health and welfare is an integral part of livestock farming and Irish farmers operate to high standards.

    While good stockmanship is second nature to most farmers, the modules ask farmers to consider any areas of animal welfare that may need improvement or greater consideration.

    Five animal welfare modules will be available from April. The introductory course covers the key principles of animal health and welfare, including animal husbandry, body condition scoring, hygiene and animal-based indicators.

    It takes about 45 minutes to complete this introductory course, which should be done before progressing to the specific modules for sheep, dairy and suckler beef.

    Calf welfare

    The calf welfare module reinforces and promotes best practice in calf health and welfare, specifically in the areas of stress reduction, pain management, disease prevention and biosecurity practices.

    This module takes 30 minutes to complete.


  • The optimal calf housing conditions to prevent stress and limit susceptibility to disease.
  • The importance of providing pain management when disbudding and castrating.
  • Supporting biosecurity through hygiene, a vaccination programme and scour treatment.
  • How to reduce stress and promote the health and welfare of dairy and beef calves during weaning.
  • Spotlight on pain management

    Disbudding, dehorning and castration can be painful and stressful for calves. In continental European markets such as Germany and the Netherlands, it is less common for farmers to castrate and disbud/dehorn than it is here, with male cattle usually reared for bull beef.

    When these practices are carried out, consumers and trade customers expect that the best available pain management is used.

    To follow best practice in pain management for disbudding, use both a local anaesthetic and pain relief in the form of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).

    To follow best practice, pain management for castration, use pain relief (analgesia) when castrating by rubber rings (within the first week of life) or burdizzo (under six months of age). Castrating outside these age limits must be conducted by a vet with pain relief medication administered to the animal.