With producers gearing up ahead of the removal of milk quotas in 2015, the number of dairy cows in the Irish national herd increased more than 5% in the year,  according to EBLEX.

In contrast, and continuing to reflect the on-going concerns over profitability in the beef sector, it also highlights that beef cow numbers were back almost 2%.

Analysing figures from the latest Irish cattle survey EBLEX reported significantly more cattle on the ground over two-years-of-age as a result of increasing calf crops and the sharp fall in live exports in 2011 and 2012.

The number of male cattle over two-years-of-age was up 17%, while female cattle numbers of the same age were up by 13%. This again indicates that more cattle are available for beef finishing in Ireland for the remainder of this year and into early 2015.

Looking further ahead, the survey gave an indication of lower supplies in 2015 and beyond.

EBLEX says live exports recovered partially in 2013. With significantly more calves exported to France, Belgium and Spain last year, the number of younger cattle in Ireland in most categories is reported to be back on the year.

The number of cattle between one and two years of age was reported to be back 44,000 head on the year earlier and those under one year of age back 90,000 head. Prospects for the live export trade continue to be positive, with potential to grow on the back of the reopening of the trade to Libya and North Africa.

The results support Bord Bia forecasts of lower beef and veal production in Ireland next year.