On the BETTER farm page inside this week’s Irish Farmers Journal we take a look at the calf and cow weights that have recently been recorded on the spring calving particpants’ farms.

These weights are being taken as part of the BEEP scheme, which pays an attractive €40/calf. But as the BETTER farmers have learned over the last two years, weighing these stock will have added value on top of the €40 payment.

As well as analysing the weights, I caught up with Chris Daly of the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) this week to get some advice on ensuring you comply with the scheme.

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Timing

The ideal time to weigh the calf is 150-250 days of age (five to eight months) – a stage just before weaning where we can assess its summer performance and determine a management plan for the autumn and winter.

It is at this stage of rearing that we will get the fairest reflection of the weight of the suckler cow too – she is not run down after calving, nor is she heavily in calf.

All calves born between 1 July 2018 and 31 December 2018 and their dams should now be weighed. Where calf/dam pairs born in this period are not yet weighed then they should be weighed as soon as possible.

Register the scales before weighing

Weights submitted from herds without a registered scales will not be paid on by DAFM. Registering a scales should be the first job for any herd participating in BEEP. Registration of scales requires three pieces of information:

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  • The make/model.
  • The serial number.
  • The year of purchase.
  • Once registered, a specific registration number will be assigned to each set of scales. Table 1 details the different types of scales and how to register them.

    Farmer-owned scales can be registered online by logging into an ICBF account or by phone by calling 023-8832883. Third-party scales can only be registered by phone.

    Demand for rented equipment from BEEP depots is expected to increase dramatically over the coming weeks.

    Where scales are being rented, farmers are encouraged to plan a date to get weighing done as soon as animals are old enough and to book equipment well in advance of this date in order to secure a set of scales. Weekend demand is particularly high, which is to be expected given that many suckler farmers work part time.

    Submit weights to ICBF within seven days

    This is very important. Weights must be submitted to the ICBF database within seven days of the animals being weighed. Weights can be recorded online via:

  • The ICBF website.
  • The ICBF weight recording app (available for Apple and Android phones).
  • A farm software package.
  • Paper forms which can be requested by calling 023-8832883.
  • Farmers are encouraged to record weights online where at all possible.