Connacht counties led the way in suckler cow numbers at the end of 2018, according to figures released by Michael Creed, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Last month, AgriLand reported that the number of suckler cows in the country at the end of 2018 stood at 951,397.

According to the latest data, these animals were dispersed between 66,069 farms.

These farms include any enterprise with “at least one suckler cow”, according to the minister.

Minister Creed provided the data in response to a parliamentary question from Charlie McConalogue, Fianna Fail’s spokesperson on agriculture, food and the marine.

Co. Galway had the greatest proportion of suckler cows, with 96,959 head, spread across 7,430 farms; this was also the highest number of farms in a single county.

The second highest number of cows was also found in Connacht: Co. Mayo had 71,276 head, across 6,480 farms.

Moving to Munster, numbers in counties Cork and Clare were not far behind, with 69,482 head and 67,299 head respectively; these counties made up the third and fourth highest number of farms, at 5,250 and 4,297 respectively.

The figures the minister provided came from the Animal Movement and Identification (AIM) database.

Late last month Minister Creed provided the total figure in response to a parliamentary question from independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

At the time, the minister defined a suckler cow as: “A beef cow who has calved at least once in her lifetime by the end of December each calendar year.”

Producer groups

In a separate parliamentary question, deputy McConalogue asked Minister Creed how many producer organisations in the beef sector had registered with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine as of March 13 last.

The minister said that the department had not received any formal applications for the establishment of beef producer organisations, but that a number of interested groups had been in touch with his officials.

A number of interested groups have been in contact with my department about their potential, and officials from my department have had very positive engagement with key stakeholders across the beef sector on this issue over recent months.

“My department has consulted with stakeholders in relation to the potential barriers to take-up and is currently examining options in relation to the feedback received,” said Minister Creed.

He concluded his answer by saying he would urge interested groups to engage with the department “as soon as possible”.