Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D., has announced the opening of a new support measure for dairy farmers producing calves destined for beef production.

The Dairy Beef Welfare Scheme (DBWS) has a budget of €25 million over 4 years and is co-funded by the EU as part of the CAP Strategic Plan.

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It comes as part of the implementation of the recently published ten-point Action plan to support the development of a dairy-beef sector in Ireland.

The DBWS is a breeding measure which supports farmers using genotyped and genetically superior beef sires for breeding dairy beef calves.

Participants will be required to use AI straws or stock bulls with a minimum rating of 3 stars on the ICBF Dairy Beef Index (DBI) and on the beef sub-index of the DBI.

Farmers who satisfy the scheme requirements will receive a payment of €20 per eligible calf up to a maximum of 50 calves per holding.

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Commenting on the opening of the measure, Minister McConalogue said:

Both dairy and beef farmers recognise the gains to be made from the greater integration of the beef and dairy herds that this scheme supports.

There are advantages for both buyers and sellers in a scheme that provides a market outlet for dairy beef calves and an alternative business option for beef farmers.

Closer integration will undoubtedly improve the quality, welfare and viability of male calves from dairy herds.

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The objective of the DBWS is to incentivise the use of genetic tools to improve the beef merit of progeny from dairy herds.

Breeding with high DBI index sires has established progeny performance benefits as measured by their Commercial Beef Value (CBV).

The scheme supports the use of the DBI to produce calves with a higher CBVs.

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Explaining how the DBWS and its promotion of genetic information fits into his overall strategy for the development of both sectors, the Minister said:

The scheme being rolled out today delivers on a commitment given in the Ten-Point Action Plan for Dairy Calf to Beef Systems launched earlier this month.

High genetic merit sires will produce calves with high CBVs which reflect the potential profit of dairy beef animals in terms of enhanced carcass value and earlier slaughter age.

The CBV thus provides confidence to beef farmers when purchasing dairy beef calves for finishing.

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and he continued:

Under the 10-Point Plan announced on 8 March, ICBF and ICOS will ensure that the benefits of sourcing calves based on the CBV index are clearly communicated to farmers purchasing those calves.

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Minister McConalogue concluded by emphasising that he would continue to support suckler farming as a central building block of  Irish beef output:

In addition to the Dairy Beef scheme, a sum of €20 million was allocated in Budget 2024 for the implementation of an exchequer-funded suckler beef scheme to be implemented this year.

This will complement the existing €256 million Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP) which will operate until 2027 and currently has over 17,000 participants.

Applications for the CSP Dairy Beef Welfare Scheme can be lodged through agfood.ie until the closing date of 15th May.

The full terms and conditions of the DBWS are available here.

 

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