The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs has urged farmers to consider registering their calf births by telephone.
As more and more farmers realise the benefits of using APHIS Online to notify their calf births, DAERA has noticed a steady decrease over the past few years in the number of paper notifications received.
However, the Department recognises that not all herd keepers have access to a computer or mobile device and therefore is encouraging those farmers who do not use APHIS Online to consider registering their calves by telephone on the MC1 Telephony System, which is operated by specifically trained DAERA Direct staff on a dedicated phone number.
A delegation from the Ulster Farmers’ Union led by President Ivor Ferguson, was able to view the MC1 Telephony System in operation on a visit to Enniskillen. DAERA Deputy Secretary Colin Lewis explained that whilst paper notifications will continue to be accepted the Department felt it was important that all farmers should be given the opportunity to avail of the benefits of electronic notifications whether that is by online or telephone.
Mr Lewis said: “Like APHIS Online, the MC1 Telephony System provides herd keepers with access to quick, error free transactions, which can be completed without the need for paper forms or a visit to a DAERA Direct office. By using the Telephony System farmers will reduce the likelihood of their calves receiving late notification statuses and avoid queries around the inputting of BVD test results.”
The Ulster Farmers’ Union is encouraging farmers, not already using APHIS online, to use DAERA’s telephone service to register calf birth’s and on-farm deaths.
UFU deputy president David Brown says: “The telephone service gives herd keepers quick access to records, without the need to send MC1’s or visit a DAERA Direct Office. It helps to make registering cattle births and deaths more efficient.”
Earlier this year, UFU challenged DAERA’s decision to move all cattle birth and death registrations to online. Not all farmers have access to a computer or high-speed internet. While the telephone service was in place at the time, many farmers were not aware of it.
“Given that many rural areas in Northern Ireland still don’t have access to high-speed internet, the move to 100 per cent online was unacceptable.
“The telephone service is a good option and is quick and easy to use. It is a direct-line number and calls are taken by specifically trained DAERA staff. The information provided by farmers is recorded directly into APHIS in real time, which reduces the likelihood of calves receiving late notification statuses and queries around BVD results,” says Mr Brown.
To register cattle births or deaths using the telephone service call 0300 200 7855. The service is open Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm. All calls are recorded and securely stored should a farmer need to check the information at a later date.
The MC1 Telephony System is currently used by farmers to register bovine births and on-farm deaths. However, work is currently ongoing to expand the scope of the system to allow cattle purchased at a livestock market to be confirmed into the buyer’s herd by telephone.
It is anticipated that this service will be available later in the year.
Farmers can access the MC1 Telephony System on 0300 200 7855, Monday to Friday (9.00am – 5.00pm). All calls are recorded and, like paper documents, securely stored should a caller wish to check or verify, at a later date, the information provided.