130,000 extra calf births so far this year is ‘positive’ says Coveney

The increased number of calf registrations so far this year should be viewed as a positive development, according to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

However he said the forecasted increase in the size of the dairy herd will, undoubtedly, have an impact on the beef sector and, specifically, the number and type of animals entering the supply chain.

“The challenge for all of the sector is to deliver a solid return on the animals through continued market development and adding value to our beef output.”

According to the data available on the Department’s animal identification and movements database, the number of calf births registered so far this year has increased by about 130,000 or 9% compared to 2014.

The number of calves registered in the dairy herd is just over 100,000 higher than last year.

The suckler herd is also showing an increased number of births, with about 30,000 more calves registered to date in 2015.

Minsiter Coveney said dairy breed animals will require different farm management systems and would typically not achieve the same conformation scores as animals from the suckler herd.

“This will be reflected in the price achievable for finished product and farmers deciding to fatten these animals for slaughter should take account of all of these factors when making their production decisions.

“Most farmers will understand this,” he said.

Minister not convinced by home veal production

Responding to suggestions that the beef industry in Ireland should examine veal production here at home, Minister Coveney said he wasn’t convinced by the idea.

“While we must look at every opportunity to add value to our beef production, I am not convinced that targeting large-scale veal production would be the best use of our resources.

Friesian calf close up

The Minister said Irish steer and heifer beef is recognised all over the world for its excellent quality and green credentials and we need to concentrate on leveraging this position even further and increasing the efficiency of our production systems, whether from the suckler or dairy herd.

“We think we can put production systems in place that will allow us to add value, grow the animals here and produce more beef, but, obviously, that means we will need more markets and competition to ensure a price drop will not ensue, which is what happened last year,” he said.