2020 dairy calvings: What does the picture look like so far?

The thick of the calving season is upon us, as we head into the month of February. Taking a look at calving statistics for the first week of February, dairy births are ahead by 10,674 head, or by 12%, when compared to the same week last year.

This is according to the latest figures released by the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF).

Some 88,660 births have been recorded – so far this week (week ending February 7) – on dairy farms across the country; in comparison to 77,986 head for this time of last year.

This significant difference is likely due to the increase in the national herd population; however, it may also be attributed to an earlier calving start date (in contrast to last year’s later calving start date).

Calving start date is an important key performance indicator (KPI) when it comes to making the most out of early-spring grass.

On some farms, a later calving start date will improve grass utilisation, as calving should begin at the onset of grass growth and preferably six weeks before ‘magic day’.

Last year – potentially influenced by the weather events of 2018 – dairy calving statistics were behind by 14,788 births or by 16% when compared to the same week in 2018.

A total of 79,426 calves were registered on farms – up to the week ending February 8 – in 2019; while 94,214 calves were registered on farms in the same week of 2018.

export calves

Likewise, for overall dairy calf registrations to date, the figures are ahead on this time last year – from 145,217 to 171,740. This is an increase of 15%.

Between 2019 and 2018, total dairy calf registrations were behind by 43,229 head – from 188,446 in 2018 to 145,217 in 2019.

Lastly, taking a brief look at overall calf registrations to date, some 219,630 calves have been registered thus far this year – an increase of 28,696 from 2019.