The deadline under the Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme – Sucklers (BEEP-S) for submitting dung samples for faecal egg count testing “must be extended”, one farm organisation has urged.

Ger O’Brien, the suckler chairperson of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA), is calling on Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue to extend the deadline, highlighting that the deadline for the same action in last year’s scheme was November 1.

This is one month later than the deadline for this year’s scheme – tomorrow (Friday, October 1).

“We believe the decision to move this deadline forward was wrong, and we are now looking for additional time for farmers to meet this requirement.

“Following a good grass-growing season, many farmers have yet to house cattle, after which is the natural time to collect dung samples,” O’Brien pointed out.

The ICSA suckler chair also said that the ICSA was aware of situations in which laboratories were “fully booked up”, with farmers having difficulties finding labs that would take their samples.

“The logical move is to extend the deadline and allow farmers to complete all the elements required and to benefit fully from the scheme,” O’Brien argued.

At present, farmers have only today and tomorrow remaining to submit these samples.

When collecting samples, it is important that fresh samples are collected, as samples taken from older dung pads may give inaccurate results.

If you have 10 eligible cows, all must be sampled. However, if only you have five eligible cows, you still must submit 10 samples as the lab cannot otherwise verify that you have met the conditions of the scheme.

Where possible, farmers should record the tag number of the cow from which the dung sample was taken for use by the farmer when receiving the results.

BEEP-S weighing requirement

The mandatory weighing aspect of the scheme retains the deadline of November 1.

Participants must weigh each unweaned calf and its dam and then submit the weights to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF).

From May 1, all weights should be submitted within seven days of weighing and no later than November 1, 2021.

Calves that are eligible for weighing must have been born between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. The unweaned calf and dam must be weighed on the same holding, on the same day.