The announcement of a €1.5 million grant aid support package for calf feeding systems has been welcomed by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

Reacting to the news of the scheme today, Thursday, December 19, IFA National Dairy Committee chairman Tom Phelan said:

“It’s an important first step in helping farmers take their share of the responsibility in managing larger numbers of dairy calves from next spring.

“Our dairy calf policy document ‘Managing Dairy Calves’ identified the need to provide financial support for farmers to set up additional facilities before next spring,” Phelan said.

Farmers also need some guidance, advice and training on best calf rearing practice to optimise the value of their calves, and I would urge farmers to attend their local AHI [Animal Health Ireland] dairy calf event in January.

Continuing, the dairy chairman highlighted that calf exports must be secured for the coming spring.

He stressed that this must involve Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed and his department “getting clarity from exporters, ferry companies and lairage operators to maximise access, and rigorously regulating transport and lairage bookings”.

“For the medium to longer term, IFA has asked Minister Creed to also support the setting up of an Irish semen sexing lab to allow for the sexing of our top bulls in order to help farmers improve their breeding policies,” Phelan concluded.