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HomeDairyBanding rules: 3 options for farmers to confirm 2023 N excretion rates
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Banding rules: 3 options for farmers to confirm 2023 N excretion rates

Dairy farmers can now submit information to confirm the nitrogen excretion band for their dairy cows in 2023, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, has confirmed today (Wednesday).

The minister has also outlined that three options are available to farmers in determining their average for 2023 to confirm their 2023 band, as follows:

  1. Select the rolling average for the three preceding years (2020, 2021, 2022), or
  2. Select the most recent preceding year (2022), or
  3. Select to use the herd’s 2023 average milk yield (available for 2023 only).
Confirm your band

Dairy farmers can now use the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) website – which is available to all dairy farmers – to confirm which option they wish to select for 2023 and their associated band.

Minister McConalogue said he is conscious that the introduction of banding is a “new and significant” additional requirement for dairy farmers.

This requirement was, however, a “necessary” part of securing Ireland’s Nitrates Action Programme and Nitrates Derogation at EU level, he outlined.

“I have been keen to make this introduction as flexible as possible and can confirm three options for the 2023 year.”

“I encourage all dairy farmers, and where necessary, their advisors, to engage as soon as possible with the ICBF portal.”

“This will allow them to confirm their 2023 banding category and plan to manage their farm accordingly to ensure compliance with the Nitrates Regulations, including, where appropriate, the stocking rate limits set under the Nitrates Derogation,” he concluded.

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Share data with the ICBF

A small number of dairy farmers have not consented to their milk purchaser sharing their data with the ICBF, the minister highlighted.

They will need to request their milk purchaser to complete a milk purchaser statement and provide supporting information to the DAFM so their herd’s excretion rate band can be confirmed.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is currently writing to all dairy farmers regarding banding.

It is requesting farmers to submit information to confirm the 2023 excretion rate band for their herd by March 16th, 2023.

Banding dairy cows

Until the end of 2022, all dairy cows in Ireland were considered equal, producing 89kg of livestock manure nitrogen per head per year.

However, a statement from the DAFM reads, that scientific research shows increasing milk yield also increases the dairy cow’s nutrient excretion rate.

Banding dairy cow excretion rates, a spokesperson highlighted, reflects this research and is being introduced for all dairy farmers in Ireland to equalise the maximum nutrient load across farms.

From 2023 onwards, each dairy herd will be assigned to one of three bands each year based on the herd’s average annual milk yield per cow as follows:

Band Herd Average 

Milk Yield

Nitrogen Excretion Rate


1 <=4,500kg 80 
2 4,501-6,500 kg 92
3 >6,500kg 106


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