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Beef cattle herd management method

06 August 2018
ERF

Is the beef cattle herd management method suitable for your business?

  • Does your cattle herd graze on pasture?
  • Do you want to improve herd productivity?
  • Are you thinking of introducing a new herd management activity or varying an activity already under way?

If you have answered yes to these questions, the beef cattle herd management method may be suitable for your business.

A project using the Beef cattle herd management method can reduce the emissions intensity of beef cattle production by reducing cattle emissions per kilogram of liveweight produced.

Herd management projects (Part 2 section 6) can reduce emissions by improving cattle productivity, reducing the average age of a herd, reducing the proportion of unproductive animals in the herd or changing the number of animals in each livestock class in the herd.​

Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs) are earned when emissions from the herd, as a result of the project, are lower than they would have been had the project not been conducted.

Emissions intensity is the ratio of greenhouse gas emissions produced by an activity per unit of the final product. For beef cattle, emissions intensity is measured as tonnes of greenhouse gas emitted for each tonne of beef produced.

Before registering a project under this method, you should understand the ​basic steps to participating in the Emissions Reduction Fund​.

Key changes include:

  • Establishing and maintaining the herd as the project boundary
    • The herd is specified from the inventory of cattle on the books of a business operation. A business operation does not need to be a separate legal entity, as long as its associated herd is managed as a discrete set of animals over time. These provisions replace earlier provisions for an entity/sub entity structure.
  • Adding more herds to a project after the section 22 application
    • Herds acquired by the proponent before or during the project with less than 3 years of historical intensity data can now be included in the project.
  • Flexibility in the duration of mustering around the assessment day
    • Flexibility is provided for data collection around the “assessment day” through mechanisms such as an increased window for estimating liveweights, using linear projection to estimate liveweights, provisions for exceptional circumstances, and the subdivision of a herd into two or more separate herds.  
  • Provisions to ensure a full seven year crediting period for each herd
    • Additional provisions are made for estimating annual abatement of each individual herd in a project. This ensures that each herd in the project at the time of declaration has access to a full seven year crediting period.

The previous version of the method closed for new projects when the variation became available. Projects that have started will not be affected by the variation and the method the project is registered under will continue to apply. 

Participants with a project under the previous method can apply to the Clean Energy Regulator to vary their project and transfer to the varied method. If the transitioning project has not yet submitted a project report, the start of the crediting period may be re-set in accordance with crediting period basic rule (part 5 section 69) of the Carb​on Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2011. Refer to the method for more information on transitioning projects.

If you have a registered beef cattle herd management project under the previous version and the crediting period has not commenced, your project will be transferred automatically to the varied method.

Method variations

Section 114 of the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Ini​tiative) Act 2011 (the Act)​ ​allows for methods to be revised and varied. This is to ensure methods continue to operate as originally intended. Variations to methods are developed and drafted by the Department of the Environment and Energy. Information on draft methods and method variations is available on the Department of the Environment and Energy’s website.

The Clean Energy Regulator recommends making yourself familiar with proposed method variations relevant to your project should they arise, and how any changes between the original method and the varied method may affect your project plan.

Legislative requirements

You must read and understand the method and other legislative requirements to conduct a Beef cattle herd management project and earn Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs). This includes:

Tools

Quick reference guide to the Beef cattle herd management method

​Contents

Crediting period

Seven years—the crediting period is the period of time a project can apply to claim Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs).

It is recommended that the participant select a crediting period start date that is later than the declaration date of the project. The date chosen should be after the herd’s first assessment day when cattle are weighed. This will allow abatement to be recognised for the full seven years for each initial herd. 

The date for the assessment day will set the annual date on which further weighing takes place and abatement is measured. The collection of data by way of mustering and weighing may take place six weeks before or after the assessment day date. Different herds of the project may have different assessment days. ​

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Method:


Eligibility

To be eligible to run a project, you must meet the general eligibility requirements under the scheme, as well as method specific eligibility requirements, including that each herd in the project must consist of cattle that are:​

  • grazed in Australia,
  • fed principally from grazing or forage, and
  • managed in a way consistent with:
    • ANZSIC class 0142 (beef cattle farming)
    • ANZSIC class 0144 (sheep-beef cattle farming)
    • ANZSIC class 0145 (grain-sheep or grain-beef cattle farming)

For each herd in the project, the livestock inventory must be maintained separately from any others that are part of the project, and have continuity over time. 

​Each herd in the project must also be managed and pastured separately from herds not in the project except under an ‘arm’s length agistment’ agreement. An arm’s length agreement is a written contract under which a party with more grazing capacity available than is needed for its own cattle, allows another party to use the spare grazing capacity. The two parties must not be linked entities. 

When cattle are moved to or from a linked herd it must be for a genuine business purpose, at a fair value and involve the physical movement of the cattle. If the transfer is not to a linked herd it must be a purchase or sale at a fair value.

Each herd in the project must also be managed and pastured separately from other herds so that emissions can be accurately and separately quantified.

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Method:

What's not eligible

  • ANZSIC Class 0143 Beef Cattle Feedlots
  • ​ANZSIC Class 0160 Dairy Cattle Farming
  • feeding cattle on land cleared of perennial woody vegetation for the purposes of the project
  • feeding the herd non-protein nitrogen such as urea or nitrates, and
  • projects where the only activity is grazing cattle on a different area of land.

Relevant section of the Method:

Project Activities

A project activity is an agricultural practice that was not carried out during the emissions intensity reference period. The emissions intensity reference period is a historical period preceeding the project. Data from this period is used to estimate emissions intensity and calculate baseline emissions. It may also be a variation or extension of a practice that was carried out during the emissions intensity reference period. At least one project activity must be conducted each year for every herd in a project.

Examples of project activities include supplement feeding, installing new fences, planting improved pastures, improving herd genetics, and increasing density of water points. 

Participants can conduct other activities to reduce emissions intensity, but they must meet the requirements of the method. In your application to register your project you will need to demonstrate how your proposed activity will result in reduced emissions intensity. 

Relevant section of the Method:

Project baseline

The project baseline is an estimate of the emissions that would have occurred had a project activity not been implemented.

Baseline emissions are calculated for the herd each year and are essential for calculating​ the projects abatement. Use the Herd Management Calculator to work out your projects baseline.

To calculate the baseline emissions each herd must have historical emissions intensity data from the project's reference period. The emissions intensity reference period is calculated using three of the immediate past seven years—where the liveweight gain for the herd for the year was greater than zero (Figure 1). Participants must specify an emissions intensity reference period for each herd in the project. It is important to note that some herds may have only partial historical data from two previous years.​



Figure 1: Emissions intensity reference period 3 of 7 years before application

Relevant section of the Method:

Calculating abatement

Abatement is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions achieved by a project. It is measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2-e).

A project earns ACCUs for every tonne of carbon abatement it acheives. The net abatement amount for each year is determined using the difference between the herds historical baseline emissions (minus four per cent) and the herds emissions following implementation of project activities.

A project earns ACCUs for every tonne of carbon abatement it achieves. The net abatement amount for each year is determined using the difference between the herd’s historical baseline emissions (minus four per cent) and the herd’s emissions following implementation of project activities.

The four per cent discount accounts for a variation to emissions due to environmental factors beyond the participant’s control.

To calculate abatement, you must use the Herd Management Calculator.

Relevant section of the Method:

Reporting requirements

All scheme participants must submit project reports to the Clean Energy Regulator throughout the crediting period of their project, which is referred to as the ‘reporting period’.  

 Participants nominate when they will report on their project, which for this method, must be between 6 months and two years.

In addition to the general reporting and notification requirements of the Act and Rules, this method​ also specifies what information must be included in your report.  


Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Rule:

Relevant section of the Method:

Record-keeping requirements

Scheme participants must keep records for seven years according to the general record-keeping requirements of the Act and Rules, including:

  • separate and self-contained records for each herd, for example: 
    • records of yearly liveweight gain
    • movements of cattle in and out of the herd with liveweights at entry into and exit from herd, and
  • records showing the business structure, location and management changes in the emission intensity reference period.

The method also states that records must be kept for purchased feed if the project activity involved a change to the herd’s diet and some or all of the feed was purchased. 


Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Rule:

Relevant section of the Method:

Monitoring requirements

In addition to the general monitoring requirements of the Act, projects must meet specific monitoring requirements in Part 5 of t​he method.

The scheme participant must monitor each animal in the herd to determine the inputs for the Beef Herd Management Calculator ​listed in Part 5 schedule 1 and, if applicable, part 5 schedule 2 of the method.

 

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Rule:

Relevant section of the Method:

Audit

The purpose of an audit is to establish reasonable assurance that abatement achieved and reported on is accurate. Audits are conducted by registered category 2 national greenhouse and energy auditors.

All projects receive an audit schedule when registered and must provide audit reports according to this schedule. A minimum of three audits will be scheduled and additional audits may be triggered. For information on audit requirements see Audit requirements.

Relevant section of the A​ct:

Relevant section of the Rule:

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