The Beef Data and Genomics Programme is a key part of the Rural Development Programme in Ireland and it is targeting the suckler beef sector in particular, with an objective to deliver accelerated genetic improvement in the national herd and improve its environmental and economic sustainability.
€300 million will be dished out to farmers over the six year period, with this programme banking on the proven previous success of the Beef Genomics Scheme in 2014, where genomic testing was initially introduced to Irish suckler herds.
A training course is deemed as one of the core parts of the scheme and its main objective is to give participants a further understanding and provide information in relation to requirements, conditions and benefits of the scheme.
It is also a compulsory requirement and must be completed before the designated deadline of 31st October 2016. Applicants receive €166 upon completion of course.
As part of my own family farms’ participation in the programme, I attended the training course in our locality recently.
As someone who has conducted a considerable amount of research on the Programme, some of the elements of the programme came of no surprise to me, however as the cliché goes ‘You learn something new every day’.
The course was delivered by two trained tutors, who spoke about the various requirements of the programme and used numerous videos produced by ICBF which profile farmers and a Powerpoint presentation to convey the information.
The course was divided into two sections, with the morning section consisting of a 2.5 hours presentation on the terms and conditions of the scheme, Genomics and €uro-Star Indexes.
The afternoon section was a further 1.5 hours covering the male and female requirements, bull selection and interpretation of a bull’s €uro-Star report.
The content ranged from the explanation of €uro- Stars, to data recording, explanation on the significance of reliability figures, the concept of Genomics, Milk-Weight recording, fertility, Genetics Vs Environment, Carbon navigator completion and an in-depth analysis of the replacement strategy of the programme, with a look at the use of a Stock bull and AI, purchasing replacement heifers and management of breeding heifers.
After attendees received this knowledge, we had to put it into practice with regards our own herd of suckler cows and replacement strategies. This is where farmers really identified the strengths and weaknesses of their suckler herds.
Speaking with farmers on the day, they informed me that it had greatly increased their knowledge of the programme and the requirements.
Feedback sheets are given to all course attendees as the day draws to a close in order to evaluate the day.