Saturday 1 October 2016

Beef scheme's potential is being 'diluted' by out-of-date mart screens

Published 18/11/2015 | 02:30

Ray Doyle
Ray Doyle

The potential of the Beef Data Genomics Scheme will be "diluted" unless new electronic mart screens are installed to keep farmers up-to-date on star ratings, a mart representative group has warned.

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Ray Doyle of ICOS said they were meeting Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney next week to call for grant aid to subsidise the roll-out of new boards at marts throughout the country.

"Unless we have the same presentation of data on mart boards in Cahirciveen in Kerry or Raphoe in Donegal in a fairly speedy manner, it will dilute and lessen the implementation of the scheme," said Mr Doyle as he called on the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee to raise the matter.

"It will cost anywhere from €8,000 to €10,000 per ring to put up the screens to display this data," he said.

Mr Doyle emphasised that for some purchases, the data on the mart screen will be as important as the look of the animal. "This will only increase because more and more farmers will buy from a genetic profile, particularly in respect of dairy stock, rather than the look of the animal," he said.

"Some dairy farmers are more concerned with whether the animal has an economic breeding index, EBI, in excess of €200 or €300 rather than whether the animal is throwing out a leg or all-white socks. This will only increase as the years go by," said Mr Doyle.

"It is very important that the visual aspect is still there for the suckler herd. With the beef data genomics programme, we have introduced an extra genetic or technological addition to purchasing criteria.

"Again, we need the marts to be upgraded very speedily to enhance that."

Some mart managers, however, have raised concerns over the cost of purchasing of the screens.

Meanwhile, Michael Spellman from ICOS said between €7m and €8.5m a year would be saved if the country removed the need for cattle passports.

ICOS claimed that if electronic tagging was brought in as a compulsory measure at a cost of an extra €1 per tag then it would remove the need for an up-to-date register as all information would be instantly available.

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