Beef births lag behind as dairy calvings jump by 70,000 head

The number of beef calves registered on Irish farms in 2016 continues to lag behind last year, recent figures from the ICBF show.

According to the ICBF, just over 740,000 beef calves were registered during the first seven months of 2016, which is a drop of 21,021 head or 2.8% on the same time last year.

However, despite the fall in beef births, figures from the CSO show that the Irish suckler herd increased by 1.1% in 2015, which is much smaller than the growth witnessed in the dairy herd.

Year-on-year calf birth changes:
  • Total: +47,898 head (+2.5%)
  • Dairy births: +68,919 head (+5.9%)
  • Beef births: -21,021 head (-2.8%)

ICBF figures also show that that there has been an increase in the number of dairy calves born during the first seven months of 2015.

It shows that dairy births were 68,919 head or 5.9% higher between January and July of 2016 compared to the corresponding time in 2015.

The increase in dairy births coincides with the much-heralded expansion on Irish dairy farms after the abolition of milk quotas last year.

Further growth in Irish national milk production is forecast in 2016. Teagasc says following the estimated 10% increase in production in 2015, further growth of 7% is forecast in 2016.

The increase in dairy calf births also follows a 10% increase in dairy cow numbers last year.

According to official figures, the Irish dairy herd stood at almost 1.23m head in December 2015, which is more than 100,000 head higher than the year before.

ICBF calf births 08092016
Source: ICBF