2019 suckler calvings: How does the picture look so far?

The calving season is in full swing on many suckler farms around the country. If it hasn’t started yet, it is just around the corner on the remaining farms.

While it is still early days, figures from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) indicate that 11,024 calves were registered to suckler cows during the week ending February 8.

However, turning back to the same week in 2018, just over 14,500 calves were registered that week. Therefore, this represents a fall of 3,494 head.

Moving to the overall picture in 2019, some 46,617 calves have been registered to suckler cows up to and including the week ending February 8.

Similarly, this is a decrease on the number of suckler calves that were registered in the same period in 2018. In the corresponding period in 2018, some 54,398 suckler calves were registered – a decrease of 7,781 head.

A closer look at the figures available from ICBF show that the difference was much smaller between the same period in 2018 versus 2017.

Just shy of 500 calves had been registered during the same week in 2018 and 2017. While the difference on a yearly basis for the same period (January to February 8) between 2018 and 2017 stood at 4,128 head.

Although nothing concrete can be fully gauged yet, it appears the downward trend will continue on suckler farms.

Low factory prices, increasing input costs and uncertainty surrounding Britain’s exit from the EU may have all contributed to this decline.

In addition, unfortunately, many farmers may have switched enterprises or went in search of more lucrative pastures.