Applied to the beef genomics scheme? Here’s what happens next

Over 27,000 farmers have applied to the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP), according to the Department of Agriculture, so what happens next?

In the coming weeks the Department will issue a mini-statement to each applicant to the programme.

The mini-statement will indicate your reference cow number based on 2014 numbers and according to Teagasc, the mini-statement will also inform you of your maximum payable area (MPA) and the Eurostar rating of the heifers currently in your herd.

Once you get this information, Teagasc says you should speak with your adviser, particularly about what you might need to do in order to determine what your best strategy will be to ensure that you have adequate heifers in place by 2018 and 2020.

Beef Data Genomics Programme requirements

Calving details and survey

The calving details and survey requirements this year are the same as you would have completed in last year’s beef data and genomics scheme, it says.

The information can once again be recorded online or on the survey forms issued by the Department. Information on calf quality and docility can only be recorded once a calf has reached five months old, it says.

Genotyping

This is another contentious aspect of the beef programme where the requirement has increased from genotyping four animals in a 20 cow herd last year to 12 animals (or 60% of the reference number) in the new beef programme each year, Teagasc says.

The cost of the genotyping, which is not yet finalised, will be deducted directly from the annual payment, it says.

It is expected that tags for the genotyping will forward considerably in subsequent years as they are likely to become part of the normal animal tags, it says.

Teagasc says the need for the increased percentage of genotyped animals is to help identify enough suitable four and five-star replacement heifers over the duration of the beef programme.

For that reason it is likely that it will be the younger animals in the herd that will be targeted for genotyping, it says.

Replacement strategy

  • Stock bull: for applicants using a stock bull, at least one stock bull on the holding on June 30, 2019, must have been a genotyped fouror five-star bull on either the terminal or replacement index.
  • At least 80% of the AI used on participating holdings must be from four- or five-star bulls on either the terminal or replacement index – this applies from June 20, 2016.
  •  Replacement heifers must be four or five stars on the replacement index at the time of purchase (for heifers brought into the herd) or at the time of genotyping (for those replacements bred within the herd).

The number of heifers/eligible suckler cows meeting these criteria must:

  • On October 31, 2018 = 20% of the number of the applicant’s reference animals.
  • On October 31, 2020 = 50% of the number of the applicant’s reference animals.
  • Heifers on these dates need not be calved but they must be at least 16 months old and born in 2013 or later, and be obviously genotyped four or five-star.

Carbon navigator

A carbon navigator must be completed with an approved adviser by October 31, 2016. The cost of the adviser will be covered by the Department and the carbon navigator must be updated annually, Teagasc says.

Training

You will be required to attend an approved BDGP training course before October 31, 2016, Teagasc says.

The course will last for four hours, it will explain the beef programme in detail and it will also explain how to use the breeding indexes and what efficiencies can be used to improve your carbon footprint, it says.

On successful completion of the training you will be eligible to receive a payment of €166, Teagasc says.

Teagasc says that apart from the payment, which will be welcomed by participating farms, this is a great opportunity to make real progress in improving the maternal traits in our suckler herd and improve the reliability of the Eurostar index.

Many people are sceptical about the index but Teagasc says it is confident that even at this early stage the maternal herd in Grange is showing that four or five-star animals have more milk, are more fertile and have better calves.

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