How to cash in on the new calf equipment scheme

Everything you need to know about applying for the new programme which offers beef and dairy farmers 40pc grants for upgrading facilities

Automatic calf feeder
Automatic calf feeder
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The new calf welfare scheme offers beef and dairy farmers an excellent opportunity to upgrade their calf-rearing facilities. Here, we answer some of the important questions farmers may have regarding the scheme.

1. Who can apply?

The scheme is open to farmers who:

  • are 18 or over 18 years of age;
  • hold a Department herd number;
  • prior to submitting the CIS application have a minimum of five hectares of "eligible land" declared under the 2019 Basic Payment Scheme.

2. I am a suckler farmer, can I apply?

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Yes. The scheme is open to any farmer who can meet the criteria at Q. 1 above. All investments must be used on the applicant's own farm.

3. What are the investment limits?

The overall scheme budget is €1.5m. A 40pc grant aid will apply. The minimum investment required is €1,000 excluding VAT, i.e. the grant will be €400 in that case.

The maximum investment eligible for payment will be €7,500 excluding VAT, i.e. an applicant who applies for that amount will be entitled to €3,000. Expenditure over €7,500 is at applicant's own cost.

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4. What investments are eligible?

Below are the list of investments available under the scheme (a category A investment must be applied for in order to apply for any category B investments).

Category A Investments

Calf teat feeder (minimum of 6 teat places): Milk feeders must be designed so that calves have to suck milk through a teat from the milk feed container(s). Feeders and teats shall be of proprietary manufacturer (not homemade) and shall be washable and long lasting with the teats being replaceable.

Computerised calf feeder: All automatic calf feeders shall be computer controlled. The feeder must be able to automatically mix and dispense milk replacer or dispense whole milk on predetermined feeding curves for each calf and shall accommodate multiple feeding curves. It shall also monitor the drinking behaviour trends of each calf. The automatic calf feeder shall be comprised of base unit and one or more feed stations. The base unit must comprise of a single or a dual hopper, mixing bowls and a display screen. Calves shall be monitored by tag/collar reader.

Milk Cart with Mixer: All milk carts/crates must be of proprietary manufacturer (not homemade), comprising of a stainless steel or plastic container to hold the milk. The milk cart must comprise of a tank/container, lid, at least two wheels and a handle to manoeuvre the cart. There must be a valve/tap to empty the container while in an upright stationary position. The cart must also incorporate a mixer to mix milk replacer and water. The milk cart must be designed to be easily cleaned and maintained.

Category B Investments

  • Calf milk heater
  • Calf forage/hay rack
  • Calf meal trough
  • Calf feed barrier
  • Calf pen dividers

5. How do I apply for the Scheme?

Application forms will be available online from January 7, 2020 and completed application forms shall be submitted by email to

6. How long is the scheme open for applications?

The application period is from January 7, 2020 to January 28, 2020. Completed applications must be received by 5pm on Tuesday, January 28, 2020. Applications received after this date will be deemed invalid and will not be eligible for consideration.

7. What will happen if the scheme is oversubscribed?

There is an overall budget of €1.5m set for the programme. In the event of oversubscription, there may be a linear reduction to each payment.

8. When can I purchase equipment?

Equipment can be purchased or a deposit paid as soon as your application is confirmed as received by DAFM. Please note that if you purchase equipment before you have approval from DAFM, you do so at your own risk.

9. What is the maximum payment I can receive?

Grant aid per investment item will be calculated on the basis of the lowest of the following amounts:

  • the Department's Reference Costings applicable at the date of approval;
  • the total of the eligible invoices marked "paid", net of VAT;
  • the cost of the approved investment.

It shall be paid at a rate of up to 40pc up to the maximum investment ceiling of €7,500.

10. What is the minimum claim for payment?

The minimum payment amount is €400, which is the minimum investment amount of €1,000 at a grant rate of 40pc.

11. Do I need receipts for proof of purchase?

All receipts should be original, should be on headed paper and should at least include the name, address and VAT number/tax reference number TRN of the supplier/contractor (if registered).

Investment case study

10 teat calf feeder = (14.584 x 10) + 32.525 = €178.29

2 station computerised calf feeder = (1534.8 x 2) + 7540.6 = €10,610

250 Milk Cart with mixer = (6.5453 x 250) - 185.53 = €1,450.80

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