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For Oral Answer on : 14/12/2023
Question Number(s): 16 Question Reference(s): 55528/23
Department: Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.


* To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine his views on the recent publication of the new bull replacement and terminal index ratings by an organisation (details supplied); the potential impact this could have on beef suckler farms and the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– David Stanton T.D.

For ORAL answer on Thursday, 14 December, 2023.


The Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) – the body approved in Ireland in accordance with relevant EU legislation to conduct testing, genetic evaluation and publication of breeding values for dairy and beef cattle – have recently updated beef breeding indexes.

This was the first major update since 2015, based mainly on changing economic drivers such as feed costs and beef prices.  A modest adjustment also took place based on earlier slaughter of animals, tuberculosis resistance, carcass specifications and lower methane output.

I understand that prior to the updates, Continentals (Charolais, Limousin and Belgian Blue) were the most desirable Terminal cattle breeds and they continue to be the most desirable after the changes. With regard to the Replacement Index, the top three most desirable replacement breeds (Aberdeen Angus, Limousin and Simmental) remain as the top three after the changes.

ICBF has recently committed to convening an industry stakeholder forum to address issues and concerns raised by suckler farmers and pedigree breeders and I welcome this engagement.

The Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP) aims to provide support to suckler farmers to improve the profitability and environmental sustainability of the national beef herd. I understand from ICBF that 84% of 4-5 Star animals prior to the changes will retain their 4-5 Star status after the changes.

Animals in SCEP herds whose Index falls will not be impacted by the changes unless the SCEP participant sells an animal that has gone down in rating. It is only when this animal moves out of this herd, its 3 Star rating will become applicable and it will no longer meet the 4 and 5 Star eligibility criteria. I understand that any other issues arising will be addressed in the coming months in the stakeholder forum and communications will be issued to SCEP participants by ICBF. I will continue to monitor any impact on SCEP farmers closely.

I am confident that the amended indexes will contribute to the overall profitability and sustainability of beef production at farm level and my Department will continue to monitor the impact of the amended indexes on SCEP participants.