Farmers in Northern Ireland have the opportunity to travel to the Netherlands to see innovative approaches to managing antibiotic usage in dairy-bred beef calves.

The two-day study tour, run by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), will focus on methods used to rear dairy-bred calves.

The trip will show how farmers in the Netherlands have been able to reduce their use of antibiotics while maintaining high-performance levels and lowering mortality.

This study tour is part of the Farm Innovation Visits Scheme which is being delivered by DAERA’s College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE).

The tour will include visits to a veterinary practice providing details on the Netherlands antibiotic reduction to date, several progressive veal units and the Trouw Nutrition calf research centre.

The group will leave from Northern Ireland on Tuesday morning January 28, 2020, and return on Thursday, January 30, 2020.

The tour will be led by CAFRE senior beef and sheep adviser Ciaran Hamill and CAFRE beef technologist Natasha Ferguson.

Applications are invited from one member or employee of the farm business who is actively farming with a minimum of 30 dairy beef bred animals reared on farm to at least 14 weeks of age, who is over 18 years old on the application closing date and not in full-time education.

To increase the benefits arising from the study tour all applicants must identify a group of farmers to share their findings with upon their return.

A total of 16 places are available and these will be allocated on a competitive basis.

The Farm Innovation Visit Scheme, which is part of the NI Rural Development Programme and part-funded by the EU, will cover the costs associated with setting up the visit, accommodation, travel outside of Northern Ireland, and meals when abroad.

Participants will be expected to meet any additional costs, including farm relief and travel insurance.

Farmers who are interested in participating in this study tour can find out more details and apply on the department’s website.

Applications close at 4:00pm on Monday, January 6, 2020.