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Farmers can access new financial support scheme for calf rearing

Dairy

Farmers can access a new €1.5 million support scheme for calf rearing equipment ahead of the spring calving season.

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said the new Financial Support Scheme is one of a “series of measures being put in place by stakeholders in advance of the spring calving season with a view to ensuring the highest possible calf welfare outcomes”.

The Department of Agriculture has made €1.5 million available in order to fund the scheme.

The primary investment focus will be on supporting calf feeding systems such as computerised calf feeders, milk carts with mixer included and calf teat feeders.

Under the scheme, when a farmer purchases one of these items, they will also be eligible to receive support for the purchase of other items, such as calf milk heaters, calf forage/hay racks, calf meal troughs, calf feed barriers and calf pen dividers.

  • The minimum investment required is €1,000 excluding VAT, while the maximum investment being proposed will be €7,500 excluding VAT.
  • A 40% grant aid will apply to applications meeting all the terms and conditions of the scheme. In the event of over-subscription this figure may be reduced.
  • Applications will open on 7th January 2020. Terms and conditions and the relevant specifications will be available on the DAFM website.

Glanbia Ireland has highlighted the benefits for farmers of automatic calf feeders on calf welfare, labour efficiency and disease control. Earlier this year, Glanbia Ireland’s veterinary and technical advisory teams drew-up a new publication ‘Dairy Calf Management Guidelines’ to assist suppliers in achieving the highest standards of animal husbandry.

Minister Creed highlighted that this Financial Support Scheme was undertaken, in addition to other steps, following on-going discussions with stakeholders in the sector. It is understood the 10 day age for sale/movement is currently being further evaluated by the Department to ensure it is delivering the expected animal welfare outcomes.

Following discussions, ICOS and the marts are going to play a key role in terms of co-ordinating and linking dairy and specialist calf rearers.

A number of measures have been taken this year including AHI compiling a Calf Care booklet, along with Farmed Animal Welfare Advisory Council (FAWAC) working on a new calf rearing advisory booklet.

Teagasc and Animal Health Ireland are providing further calf care seminars early in the spring. A number of these events will take place on Glanbia supplier farms.

The Department said it has been engaging with exporters to ensure the welfare of calves being transported to the continent and has advised them of strengthened standards and newly updated requirements concerning booking systems at lairages in France.

“This effort is critical in ensuring the highest welfare standards were applied across the board in farms, marts and in the transport sector. These actions are also essential in protecting the image of Ireland as a sustainable producer of quality food,” said Minister Creed.

First Published 20 December 2019

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