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€25 million scheme to improve beef progeny from the dairy herd unveiled

€25 million scheme to improve beef progeny from the dairy herd unveiled

A €25 million scheme to incentivise the use of genotyped and genetically superior beef sires for breeding dairy beef calves has been unveiled.

Launched by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue today, March 21, the Dairy Beef Welfare Scheme (DBWS) will run over four years and it comes as part of the implementation of the recently published 10-point Action plan to support the development of a dairy-beef sector in Ireland.

As part of the scheme, participating dairy farmers 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, with the aim of producing calves of a higher Commercial Beef Value (CBV).

Farmers who satisfy the scheme requirements will receive a payment of €20 per eligible calf up to a maximum of 50 calves per holding. The closing date for applications, through the agfood.ie portal, is May 15.

Gains from greater integration

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.”

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

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

Full terms and conditions of the Dairy Beef Welfare Scheme.