Calf births up 45,893 head as dairy calvings lead the way

Total calf births in Ireland show an increase of 45,893 head for the year-to-date compared to the corresponding period in 2015, figures from the ICBF show.

The figures show that this 2.13% increase is being largely driven by the substantial increase in dairy calf production.

Compared to the same period of 2015, dairy calf births are up 5.4%, which represents an increase of 67,469 head of calves.

Year-on-year calf birth changes:

  • Dairy: +67,469 head or +5.5%
  • Beef: -21,630 head or -2.4%
  • Total: +45,389 head or +2.1%

As had been the trend this year, beef births are down by 21,630 head – meaning that there are 2.4% drop in beef calvings so far this year.

Source: ICBF
Source: ICBF

Continued growth of dairy cow numbers

The increase in dairy calf births is largely attributed to the ever expanding number of dairy cows in Ireland.

A recent report published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) shows that national dairy cow numbers have increased in 2016, repeating the trend of the previous five years.

The provisional Livestock and Crop Survey from June of this year shows an increase of 102,100 dairy cows nationally since June 2015, a rise of 7.9%.

This increase is in line with previous annual growth for dairy cow numbers which have increased incrementally from 1,140,800 head in 2012  to the 2016 figure of 1,379,900 head.

This represents a 21% increase in dairy cows over the five year period 2012-2016.

Source: CSO Ireland
Source: CSO Ireland

The increasing number of dairy cows in the country is mainly due to the abolition of milk quotas in April 2015 which has seen many herds expanding around the country.

Interestingly the number of cows in the beef herd increased by 2.6% in 2016, a rise of 27,800 head compared to 2015.

However this figure needs to be looked with some perspective. In the three year period 2013-2016 there has been a drop of 46,600 cows in the Irish beef herd, which represents an overall drop of just over 4% in three years.