Dairy births are up almost 30,000 to date on the same period in 2015, according to latest registration figures from the Department of Agriculture.

Its figures show that 360,000 calves have been registered so far this year compared to 332,000 born over the same period in 2015 an increase of 7%.

The increase in dairy births coincides with the much-heralded expansion on Irish dairy farmers the abolition of milk quotas which took place 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.

Recent reports from the calf market suggest a buoyant trade but many mart managers have cautioned that as the increased numbers come on stream prices could well slip.

The increase in the numbers of dairy calves being born both this year and in 2015 has been cited as a cause for concern in the beef sector.

According to Bord Bia, an increase of almost 28,000 head in live cattle exports in 2014 helped partly offset a rise of more than 100,000 head in calf registrations.

However, it says this increase points to a pick-up in finished cattle supplies as 2016 progresses.

Bord Bia cites figures from the Department of Agriculture’s AIM database for September 1, 2015, which show a decline of 37,000 head in the number of male cattle aged 18–24 months while numbers in the 12–18 months category were 36,000 head higher, relative to a year earlier.

Female numbers in the 18–24 months age bracket were 35,000 head lower while numbers of heifers aged 12–18 months were 30,000 head higher.

Bord Bia says taking these figures into account, supplies at export plants are expected to be tight in the first half of 2016 before recovering in the second half to leave supplies for 2016 up between 60,000 and 80,000 head.