One in three cattle processed at Irish beef factories in the first four months of this year were sired by a dairy bull, according to figures from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) on factory cattle supply.

The total number of cattle processed at DAFM-approved factories in the first four months of 2022 stood at just over 607,000 head. Of these, just over 205,000 head (33.85%) were sired by a dairy bull and just over 401,000 head (66.15%) were sired by a beef bull.

The data on cattle sired by beef bulls include cattle from both beef and dairy breed dams.

Factory slaughter so far in 2022 by month, gender and sire type:

Beef maleBeef femaleTotal beefDairy maleDairy femaleTotal dairyOverall total
March: 52,66051,877104,53730,79429,99460,788165,325

The above table includes all dairy and beef-sired cattle (cows, bulls, heifers and steers).

The breakdown based on dam breed is not currently available for 2022, but it is evident that a growing percentage of Ireland’s beef cattle that are processed every year are born on dairy farms.

Looking at the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation’s (ICBF’s) calving statistics from the week ending June 10, we can see that 72% of the 1.98 million calves born so far this year were born on dairy farms.

In contrast, just over 550,000 of these calves were born on suckler farms or to a beef-breed cow.

In 2021, overall, a total of 28.13% of the cattle processed were bred by a dairy-bred sire.

The figures show the extent of the dairy industry’s growing contribution to the beef industry in Ireland, but also show the potential that sexed semen has in increasing the number of beef-sired cattle coming from the dairy herd in the future.