29 September 2000

Check those stocking rates

CLAIMING extensification? Then it may be time to check that you are going to meet stocking density requirements, writes Sussex-based David Winnard of agricultural consultants Laurence Gould.

Livestock producers seeking to claim extensification payments under the standard scheme in 2000 must now monitor livestock units for the year to date, and where necessary make adjustments for the remaining census dates.

Four of the six census dates for extensification payment calculations under the standard scheme have been announced. Producers seeking to receive the premium should ensure that the number and age of cattle on the holding for the last two census dates – the fifth date will be in September or October, the sixth in November or December – does not take the deemed stocking density above that targeted. The limits are two livestock units/ha for the lower rate, 1.6 units/ha for the higher rate.

The table shows an example of a producer who ticked the Standard Scheme box under section V of the 2000 IACS Area Aid Application, and hopes to receive the higher rate of extensification, maximum stocking density 1.6 livestock units/ha.

The example is based on a 100-cow suckler herd producing one calf/cow/year and calving in September and October. In addition to the calves born, the producer buys about 40 male calves in order to claim the full 90 head of beef special premium in each age category – a total of 180 beef special premium claims a year. Calves produced and purchased are sold at close to two years old.

The table shows the numbers of livestock and corresponding livestock units on the first four census dates. On the first census date, only those calves born in 1998 are more than six months old. On the second date, half the 1999 calves have reached six months old, and by the third and fourth dates all 1999 calves have reached six months of age.

If the fifth census date is in late September or early October, it is anticipated that about half the 1998 calves will have been sold, and half the 2000 calves born and purchased – giving 207 animals more than six months old. By the sixth census date, all 1998 calves should have been sold, leaving only the 1999 calves over six months of age.

If the numbers correspond to this plan for the last two census dates, a stocking density of under 1.6 livestock units/ha would be achieved. However, if the fifth census date is early in September, fewer of the 1998 calves would be sold, which would increase the number of livestock units. This would potentially take the stocking density over 1.6 livestock units/ha; under the plan shown, there is a leeway of only 3.7 livestock units.

The effect of this would be to reduce the extensification payments from the higher rate (estimated at £41.36/head) to the lower rate (estimated at £20.86/head). On 100 suckler cow premium claims and 180 beef special premium claims, this would result in a drop in income of £5,740.

In order to ensure that the higher rate of extensification payment is received, the following steps may need to be taken:

&#8226 Sell 1998 produced calves as early as possible, subject to animals being ready and market conditions being suitable.

&#8226 Adjust the number of animals on farm for the last census date by selling or transferring animals off the holding and onto another persons holding. It should be noted that moving animals off the holding requires all relevant paperwork to be completed and it must be possible to demonstrate that the movement reflects sound husbandry practice or is in line with traditional practice in the region. The animals moved would count as livestock units on the holding to which they are moved.

&#8226 In other situations, culling animals early and/or delaying planned purchases may allow the average stocking density to remain below the intended limit. &#42

It will pay to ensure now that stocking rates fall within extensification scheme limits, says David Winnard.


&#8226 Deemed forage area for extensification payment excludes all crops that fall under the IACS AAP scheme, even if these crops are grown on IACS AAPs ineligible land. Pasture land must account for at least 50% of the total forage area declared.

&#8226 Deemed livestock units take into account all bovines aged six months and over on the holding, plus the number of 2000 sheep annual premium claims made. Bovines (male and female) aged from six to 24 months count as 0.6 LUs. Bovines (male and female) aged over 24 months and heifers under 24 months but which have calved count as 1.0 LUs. 2000 SAP claims count as 0.15 LUs. Milk quota does not count towards LUs for extensification payment.

Extensification payments – fine tuning

Census date 1 2 3 4 5 6 Total

27/2 3/4 13/5 1/8 ? ?

Cattle over 2yo 100 100 100 100 100 100

LU 16.67 16.67 16.67 16.67 16.67 16.67 100

Cattle 6-24 mths 138 207 276 276 207 139

LU 13.8 20.7 27.6 27.6 20.7 13.9 124.3

Cattle 0-6 mths 138 69 0 0 69 139

LU 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Total LU 30.47 37.37 44.27 44.27 37.37 30.57 224.3

* 142.5ha grassland entered onto IACS area aid application.

* Max stocking density 1.6LU/ha to achieve higher rate extensification payments.

* On 142.5ha maximum of 228 livestock units allowed.