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Discussion groups improving Dairy Breeding Database - Coveney urges Dairy Efficiency Programme participants to register Herd Health Events

Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, today urged all dairy farmers participating in the Dairy Efficiency Programme to comply with the new requirement to register Herd Health Events. The Dairy Efficiency Programme is a three-year programme using unspent Single Payment Scheme funds to encourage efficiency gains on dairy farms through increased participation in discussion groups.

The Minister pointed out that this element of the Dairy Efficiency Programme is being administered with the assistance of ICBF, and is aimed at improving the quality of the dairy breeding database maintained by ICBF through the supply of information relating to cow milking temperament, and the incidence of lameness and mastitis. Dairy farmers are currently receiving letters from ICBF explaining how Herd Health Events should be recorded, either online or using the pre-printed form DEP4 accompanying the letter. Milking temperament in respect of all animals must be recorded, as well as lameness and mastitis incidence in respect of those animals affected. The information must be returned to ICBF, or recorded using the online facility, by 31 October 2011.

"The recording of Herd Health Events is essentially the final component of the range of activities to be carried out by participants in the Dairy Efficiency Programme. The requirement was flagged at the beginning of 2011 in the Detailed Rules governing the second year of the Programme, and all participants were given notice in June that it would be introduced in the autumn. The procedure is a straightforward one, and ICBF will be on hand to answer any queries farmers may have. The crucial point to bear in mind is that this information will improve the quality of the dairy breeding database, and will be of great benefit to the sector in the future. Dairy farmers should therefore see this as an important investment that is in their own long-term interests and not merely as a further task to complete to qualify for payment under the Dairy Efficiency Programme", said the Minister.

The Minister took the opportunity to remind all dairy farmers of the benefits to their business of being involved in a discussion group. He pointed in particular to Teagasc research which shows that efficiency gains from the effective use of technology and best on-farm practice can deliver improved profitability of between one and two cent per litre. He urged those who had not yet considered the discussion group option to do so, bearing in mind that the Dairy Efficiency Programme has a further year to run in 2012.

The Minister concluded by thanking ICBF for their support and for their constructive involvement in this element of the Dairy Efficiency Programme, and again urged all participants to return their Herd Health Event data by the deadline of 31 October 2011.

Date Released: 21 September 2011