Continentals To Come Out Top In New Stars

The new beef Euro-Star Index list will now be published on Tuesday, November 28.

When the new beef Euro-Star Index list is published on Tuesday, November 28, Continental breeds will continue to be the most desirable cattle ranked on the terminal index, and Simmental, Limousin, and Angus will still be the top three most desirable breeds on the replacement index; however, the traditional breeds (such as Hereford and Angus) will improve.

Speaking in the Dáil, Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue said the new index evaluation includes changes to protect Irish suckler beef production from economic and environmental challenges, and for the majority of animals, these improvements will mean little change in the Euro-Star Index rankings.

The beef Euro-Star index has not been updated since 2015

He said the beef Euro-Star improvements are the culmination of years of research by the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) and Teagasc.

Each trait in the Euro-Star replacement and terminal indexes has an economic value. These values should reflect current costs of production, and should be updated routinely. However, they have not been updated since 2015, and there have been many changes to the cost of production since that time, therefore it is necessary to update the indexes to reflect updated costs of production.

The cost of carbon is newly included, in line with Ireland’s legal obligation to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The Minister said: “Breeding is a scientifically proven tool which can be used to aid in that reduction, and as a result, the cost of carbon is being introduced to the Euro-Star Index. This has already been incorporated into the Economic Breeding Index and the Dairy Beef Index in dairy breeding. Carbon, which is set at a cost of €80 per tonne, will be factored into the economic values of a range of traits, including but not limited to gestation length, feed intake, and age at first calving”.

Additional traits now include ‘Age at Finish’, which will reward animals with a quicker finish, and a TB trait, which will help farmers identify animals which are genetically more resistant to TB.

The inclusion of carcase weight, fat, and conformation will be modified within the index, to reflect the optimum carcass range for animals (cattle should meet a minimum fat cover, but not be overfat).

There has been speculation that the Euro-Star changes would most affect the plans of Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP) participants, because they need a high Euro-Star quality bull to sire their calves, and must also have a high proportion of four-star or five-star rated heifers or cows. A farmer that fails the scheme’s four or five star requirements may be removed from SCEP, and have to return SCEP payments.

However, it has now emerged that only 17,627 participants are left in the SCEP.

There were 20,837 applications to join SCEP, between March 20 and mid-June. However, by November 1, 858 herdowners had withdrawn from SCEP, and 2,352 applicants were removed from SCEP due to non-compliance with the SCEP eligibility criteria.

SCEP payments for scheme year one will commence in December the minister confirmed.

The objective of the SCEP is to support suckler and beef farmers to improve the environmental sustainability of the national beef herd. The programme aims to build on the gains delivered in recent years through the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) and the Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme (BEEP).

(Source – Irish Examiner – Farming – Stephen Cadogan – 15/11/2023)

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