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Proposed Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme

The details of the new proposed suckler cow scheme which will be opening in 2023 have recently been published in the Draft CAP Strategic Plan 2023-2027. Matt O’Sullivan Teagasc Advisor, Killarney outlines the proposed programme here

The aim of this programme is to provide support to beef farmers to improve the environmental sustainability of the national beef herd and to improve the genetic merit of the suckler herd. The scheme aims to build on the gains delivered through the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) and the Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme (BEEP).

The proposed structure of this new programme will consist of four mandatory actions all of which will have to be undertaken by the participant in each year of the contract. The four actions proposed for the programme are a Replacement Strategy Target, a Genotyping Programme, a Weighing Requirement and a Data Recording Requirement. Suckler farmers who are currently in the BDGP and BEEPS programmes will be very familiar with these actions.

Replacement strategy

The replacement strategy will cover both the Dams and the Sires. In years 1 and 2, 80% of the calves born on the holding must be sired by a 4-star or 5-star sire. In years 3 and 4 this will increase to 85% while in year 5 it will increase to 90%.

On the Dam side, in year 1, at least 50% must be at least 4-star on the replacement index on 31 October 2023. This increases to at least 65% by 31 October 2025 and at least 75% by 31 October 2027. Farmers in BDGP currently had to hit a target of 50% 4 & 5 star females on the farm by 31st October 2021. These targets show a significant increase in the star ratings and may require a change in breeding policy on some farms if these targets are to be met.

Genotyping requirement

All calves born on the holding annually must be genotyped and this must equate to at least 70% of the reference animals on the holding. No year has yet been set for the reference number.

Weighing Requirement

The Suckler Cow and Calf pair will have to be weighed prior to the calf being weaned and not before the calf is at least 100 days old. This targets the weaning efficiency of suckler cows. The Cow and Calf weights will then have to be submitted to the ICBF in each year of the contract.

Data Recording Requirement

Participants will have to provide a range of data through animal events records and surveys. The data will be required for Calves including ease of calving, quality and docility etc. For Cows data on their milking ability and docility, and for Stock bulls, docility and functionality, culling reasons will be recorded.

Training course

The Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme will also require participants to complete a mandatory training course in each of the first two years of the scheme i.e. 2023 and 2024.


It is proposed that a higher rate of payment of €150 per cow will issue for the first 10 suckler cows in a herd with a payment of €120/cow applying thereafter up to the budget limit.

Other points to note

Currently the proposed draft document outlines that in order to be eligible an applicant will have to have submitted a BISS application in a reference year and continue to do so for the duration of the scheme. A BISS application will be the replacement for the BPS scheme.

Participants will have to have beef breed animals born annually in the herd in each programme year of the measure and will have to be a member of the Bord Bia member. This requirement has already been met with a lot of opposition so it remains to be seen whether it will actually be agreed in the final terms & conditions.

The number of Suckler Cows eligible per herd will be based on a specified historical reference period which will provide a ceiling for payment, but there will be scope to reduce numbers without penalty.

It must be noted that this Strategic Plan is still a Draft plan so changes to what is outlined above may still occur prior to the scheme introduction.

Find out more on Teagasc Beef

Teagasc Advisors are regular contributors of articles here on Teagasc Daily. Teagasc provides a Local Advisory and Education service to farmers. Find your local Teagasc office here