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Veterinary advice is that all calves should be treated  with a local anaesthetic when disbudding. Local anaesthetic may be obtained on prescription from veterinary surgeons. It is illegal to disbud a calf over 2 weeks old without using a local anaesthetic. Disbudding of calves must be carried out within 3 weeks of birth, except where the horn buds do not emerge within this period, or for animals that are naturally polled.


Where male calves are to be castrated (not compulsory under the Scheme, e.g. where the farmer is involved in the production/sale of bulls), it must be carried out at least 4 weeks prior to the weaning date, or at least 2 weeks after the weaning date. It is illegal to castrate an animal over 6 months of age without veterinary involvement.


Research work has shown that a proper weaning process reduces the stress on the calf and the suckler cow. The details regarding best practice for weaning are to be found at Term & Condition 8.5. It is important to note the following:

8 Weeks of age is the minimum that a calf can be weaned.

Meal feeding must be introduced to calves a minimum of 4 weeks before weaning.

Graduated weaning must take place in herds with more than 10 suckler cows and abrupt weaning of all animals at the one time is not permitted.


All relevant animal events (calf quality, calf docility, weaning etc.) must be recorded using the Animal Events System operated by the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF), and may be submitted in paper form by post or over the Internet.


All approved applicants, or a family member who is actively involved in the management of the suckler herd must attend a suitable training course before the 31 December  2011. This requirement will not apply to applicants under 35 years of age  on 01 January 2010  who possess a relevant Qualification. Failure to attend will result in the 2012 payment being withheld until the training is satisfactorily completed. See Paragraph 8.7 of the Terms and Conditions.


Please avoid common errors by carrying out the following checks before submitting your Application Form.

Is your herdnumber, name and address entered correctly on the Application Form?

Have you completed the total number of Beef Breed cows you expect to have calving down in your herd during 2010?

If your Herd is kept at more than one location, have you listed the two places where your animals can be inspected?

Have you signed and dated your Application Form (where the herdnumber is in joint names, all the parties must sign)?

Lo-call number is 1890 252 707

Dedicated e-mail address is sucklerherds@agriculture.gov.ie

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