Beef Efficiency Scheme changes update

With the Beef Efficiency Scheme entering its second year, we have decided to make some changes to how it is run, based on customer feedback.

We hope these changes will make it easier for scheme members to meet the requirements.

The three main changes are:

  • change to deadline for the second 2016 selection tags
  • distribution arrangements for tissue tagging for 2017
  • ear-tagging of bulls

Change to the deadline to return the second 2016 selection tags

To assist farmers who received a request to tag calves over nine months old in the second 2016 selection, we will be extending the window for return of samples from 30 June to 31 December for this selection.

Distribution arrangements for tissue tagging for 2017

For calves born from 2017 onward, we will aim to make only one selection of animals for tissue sampling per-business, per-year.

Businesses that have an even split of calving in both spring and autumn may be sent multiple requests for sampling but we will only select from calves that have not previously been through the selection process.

We will also offer early selections in June and October for applicants who plan to sell their animals in September or March.

If you wish to be included in the early June selection you must ensure that your calving data for spring born calves is uploaded on to the Beef Efficiency Scheme database by 9 June 2017.

It is planned that the tags for this selection will start to arrive in early July and will have all arrived by 1 September.

Recording calving data by 9 June is voluntary, and applicants who do not wish to enter their data by this date remain subject to the scheme deadline of 15 July for recording calving data for calves born 1 January to 1 June only.

A selection of their calves will then be made in late July, with tags starting to arrive in August and all tags arriving by 1 of November.

If you receive an early selection, this may result in more than one selection being made for your business.

You also still have the option to tissue tag 100 per cent of your calves, using a genotype tissue tag as your primary or secondary tags (bearing an official crown logo) or as a separate management tag.

Under this option, the additional price of using genotype tissue tags (as opposed to ordinary official tags) will be at your own cost.

If you opt to tissue tag 100 per cent of your calves, you will be required to use an appropriate tag that preserves the sample until the samples are requested.

You must also store the samples in the appropriate way, as instructed by the tag supplier until you send them to the lab for genotyping.

Ear-tagging of Bulls

We are aware that some scheme members have experienced problems with tissue tagging their bulls.

Tissue tagging was chosen as the method of sample selection as it was considered to be the simplest and most cost effective method in the majority of cases.

However, we will now be able to accept blood samples instead of tissue tags for older bulls.

If you would prefer this method, you would be required to arrange and pay for the sample to be taken by a qualified vet yourself.

You will also be responsible for ensuring the sample is returned to the lab making sure all relevant legislation relating to the transport of biological samples is followed.

The scheme would continue to cover the cost of laboratory testing of these samples.

Unfortunately, blood sampling is not available for calves at this time.

If you have a calf where you believe an alternative method may be required (for example, an animal with a deformed ear) please contact the Beef Efficiency Scheme team: BESMailbox@gov.scot.

If you have already been sent a request to tissue tag bulls, you have the option of returning a blood sample instead of using the tissue tag.

Further information regarding blood samples will be added to the scheme pages on Rural Payments and Services in the near future.

If you have already attempted to tag a bull and the tag broke you can return the tag to the lab stating on the form that the tag broke.

You will then be asked to sample the bull again when you receive tags for calves born in 2017.

You will have the option of trying the tissue tags again or taking a blood sample.

You will be asked to provide a sample for all bulls you record as the sire of one of the calves in the Beef Efficiency Scheme (provided they are owned by your business) by the end of the contract.

Genetic analysis completed by breed societies

We have also received queries from scheme members who have previously provided samples from some bulls for genetic analysis asking if we can use the data held by their breed society rather than providing a new sample.

Unfortunately, the genetic information being gathered by the scheme is not comparable to the genetic information held by most breed societies.

Most breed societies test for parentage and some specific breed related genetic markers.

We are not aware of any societies holding all the information required for the scheme at this time and this means that, even if a bull has had genetic analysis completed for another purpose, it is very unlikely that it can be used for the scheme.

Last updated: 25 May, 2017