Farmers who intend to breed their own replacement heifers to meet the female requirement under the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) by October 2020 have been reminded to plan ahead.

As part of the scheme, participating farmers must ensure that they have 50% of their herd’s reference number in eligible four or five-star females on October 31, 2020. A target of 20% was set for October 31, 2018.

The Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) has warned those intending to breed their own replacement females that September 15, 2018, will mark the latest date to breed cows to have females born in time to meet the October 31, 2020, replacement requirement.

Heifers will have to be 16 months of age or older in order to have a chance of qualifying, the ICBF added.

This means that farmers will need to breed cows to high-index bulls before September 15, 2018, in order to have resulting heifers old enough by October 31, 2020, the ICBF said.

Under the terms and conditions of the BDGP scheme, it is outlined that programme applicants are required to ensure that a percentage of their heifers (eligible rounded to the nearest animal) are genotyped.

These females must be four or five-star on the replacement index – either within a breed or across breeds – at the time of purchase for heifers bought into the herd or at the time of genotyping for replacements bred within the herd.

Any non-genotyped replacement heifers purchased must be subsequently genotyped and confirmed to have a four or five-star rating on the replacement index before being declared eligible for the scheme.

As well as this, these replacement heifers must be at least 16 months old and born in 2013 or later to be eligible, the terms and conditions explain.