My Department has developed and participated in a number of initiatives to improve the viability of male calves from the dairy herd.
The Calf Stakeholder Forum brings together key stakeholders in industry, with a strategic vision for a socially sustainable national dairy industry. It aligns with the overarching policy objective to develop a more integrated strategy for the livestock sector with closer alignment of the dairy and beef sectors. This includes development of enhanced strategies for dairy and dairy beef rearing as complementary to suckler enterprises.
With the development of the ICBF’s Dairy Beef Index, genetic trends for beef traits have improved greatly for beef sires, reassuring farmers that these beef-dairy calves have better beef potential.
The Integrated Dairy Beef Programme with ICOS marts also continues to deliver valuable insights on how to build a more sustainable and integrated beef-from-dairy model. Genotyping and genetics are key aspects of this programme.
In addition, the Calf Investment Scheme, which has now been integrated into TAMS, provides grant aid to farmers to help them buy new equipment for the rearing of dairy bred calves.
I am very cognisant of the importance of all calves born on dairy farms, and most especially, in ensuring that the highest animal welfare standards continue to be practised on Irish livestock farms.