By using this website, you consent to our use of cookies. For more information on cookies see our privacy policy page.

Text Size: a a
Home A-Z Index Subscribe/RSS Contact Us Twitter logo small white bird

Minister Coughlan announces new €235M Suckler Welfare Scheme

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., welcomed the EU approval of the new fully Exchequer funded suckler welfare scheme. Thanking the EU Commission for approving the Scheme, Minister Coughlan said, "This is an important initiative aimed at improving welfare and quality in the national suckler herd. Participation in the scheme is voluntary and will be open to all suckler farmers, including those with mixed enterprise herds containing both suckler and dairy animals."

Minister Coughlan referred to the fact that the Suckler Herd is the source of our high quality beef, which is very important to the rural economy. Currently, it comprises around 65,000 herds with over 1 million cows. Increased welfare standards will add to the very high quality reputation of our beef sector.

Minister Coughlan added that in developing the scheme she was now delivering on a key element of the Agri-Vision 2015 Action Plan. The Action Plan identified the beef sector as a vital area for development. She was adopting a coherent and structured approach to the beef sector, the overall aim of which is to equip it to meet the challenges and to exploit the opportunities available in the coming decade. This measure is part of that process.

The Minister said that a payment of €80 per cow up to a limit of 100 cows would be available to suckler cow farmers who undertake to comply with six animal welfare measures in relation to calves born from 1st January 2008 onwards. These measures* relate to:

  • Animal Events Recording
  • Disbudding of calves
  • Castration of bull calves
  • Minimum calving age
  • Weaning Best practice
  • Training and Education

Minister Coughlan said the scheme would operate for a five-year period. She was keeping the application procedure as straightforward as possible. In this regard, the Department will shortly write to all potentially eligible farmers with details of the main aspects of the scheme. Application Forms, Helpsheets and the Terms and Conditions will issue in the coming weeks (blank forms will also be available at Local Offices of the Department). Farmers who apply under the Scheme will be issued with the Animal Events Book (also available electronically), which will be used to notify the registration of calves, as well as certain events relating to breeding, ease of calving etc. Approval for the funding of the training and education element of the scheme (approx €15m) is being pursued separately with the EU Commission. This brings the total value of the scheme to €250m.

The closing date will be 31st March 2008. However, Minister Coughlan said it was vitally important that farmers submit a completed Application Form before their Suckler cows start calving in 2008 so that the information on the animal events can be recorded for each calf. She added "In order to facilitate those farmers with specific queries in relation to the scheme, I have had a dedicated Lo-call Number allocated in my Department. It is 1890 252 707 and it will operate from Tuesday 30 October 2007."

24 October, 2007

Note for Editors

The measures covered by the suckler welfare scheme are as follows:

Animal Events Recording is the building block of a "new" beef suckler herd. This involves the collection of comprehensive data on breeding (sire etc.) and animal welfare (ease of calving, calf mortality, dates of disbudding, castration, commencement of meal feeding and weaning).

Disbudding of calves will have to be undertaken within three weeks of birth, with an exception being made for animals whose horn buds do not emerge within this period.

Castration of male calves (unless the farmer is involved in the production/sale of bulls) must be carried out within certain timeframes of other events.

A minimum calving age will apply and any heifers calving for the first time at less than 22 months of age will not qualify for payment.

Weaning Best Practice is a major element of the scheme and will involve a meal feeding regime, graduated weaning and date of sale, i.e. sale may only take place at least two weeks after completion of weaning.

Training and Education will involve attendance by participating farmers or, by a family member who is actively involved in the management of the suckler herd at a training course dedicated to herd welfare and breeding issues, before the end of the second year in the scheme. These courses are complementary to rather than a formal part of the scheme. They will be run by Teagasc.

Date Released: 24 October 2007