Calf diaries to help prepare for programme launch.
Beef farmers across Scotland are being invited to keep a calving diary in preparation for the launch of the new Beef Efficiency Scheme in 2016.
Under the innovative programme, Scotland's world-class research in genomics will be used to improve the efficiency, sustainability and quality of the nation's beef herd – helping to improve farm profits and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
More details of the scheme have been revealed today by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead.
"The new Beef Efficiency Scheme is truly ground-breaking. It will bring cutting edge genomic technology to the farm gate to improve the quality and efficiency of Scotland's beef herd, maximising profits whilst at the same time reducing greenhouse gases.
"The scheme will launch in the spring of 2016, but we are sending beef farmers their diaries now so those thinking of applying for support can get a head start capturing data from the very beginning of the calving season.
"Participating breeders will then be asked to put that information into a new national database to be assessed alongside genomic data. This analysis can then be used by farmers to identify how best to improve the management and selection of their herd, which will bring benefits for both the environment and farm profits.
"This scheme represents a significant and unprecedented investment in Scotland's beef sector and I encourage all eligible breeders to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity."
Jim McLaren, Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland who also chaired the Beef 2020 industry working group, said:
"The Beef Efficiency Scheme is a fantastic opportunity for Scottish Beef Calf producers to take a thorough look at their current breeding policy and farming systems, with the benefit of around £30 per calf to assist with the process. It is vital that we as producers maximise our returns from the things that are within our control, such as the quality of our stock and the speed at which we can efficiently grow our animals, rather than becoming too depressed about things which we have no control over such as the weather or the latest exchange rate. I urge producers to have a close look at the scheme and keep a record of the simple scheme requirements linked to the birth of each calf, ready to input to the system once it is open for business."
Charlie Adam, NFU Scotland's Livestock Committee Chairman commented: "To remain the best beef producers in the world we all have to keep improving. Our competitors are looking at ways of getting better each and every day and in Scotland we are no different.
"This scheme has the potential to help all beef farmers make the best choice in selecting the stock which we breed from. By recording and collating this information across the industry we can ensure that the Scottish beef industry keeps moving forward.
"This is a simple, easy to access scheme for which farmers' time for participating is reimbursed through the £30 payment per calf. The payment itself is not the motivator for participating, the real motivator is about improving the quality of the stock in Scotland and the beef we produce.
"Participation in the scheme has been made simple and we want to see lots of farmers take part as it is through large numbers participating that the benefits of scheme will come for all beef producers in Scotland."
The Beef Efficiency Scheme is part of the Scottish Rural Development Programme, which is part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
The Rural Affairs Secretary has previously announced the Beef Efficiency Scheme will be supported with £45 million over three years: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Beefing-up-the-herd-17e9.aspx
Eligible breeders are being asked to gather and input information about their animals, including size and family lines, into a new national database using ScotEID which will be assessed along with genomic data. On the basis of this analysis, participating farmers will be required to identify three actions they will take to improve the management and selection of their herd. Under the scheme farmers will receive financial support which is likely to be in the region of approximately £32 per calf.
More details of the Beef Efficiency Scheme, including terms and conditions, will be available ahead of the scheme launch in 2016.