First dairy calving statistics of 2019

Dairy calving’s are behind by over 13,000 births compared to this week last year, figures from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) indicate.

Some 117,880 births have been recorded – so far this week (week ending February 17) – on dairy farms across the country in comparison to 131,287 head for this time last year. This is a significant difference from 2018.

However, this may be due to a later calving start date on many dairy farms this year. Calving start date is an important key performance indicator (KPI) when it comes to making the most out of early spring grass.

On some farms, a later calving start date will improve grass utilisation, as calving should begin at the onset of grass growth and preferably six weeks before ‘magic day’.

The weekly figures in fact are coming close to what they were in 2017. Perhaps some of the weather events of 2018 is what provoked this change amongst farmers.

Likewise, for the overall dairy calf registrations to date, the figures are down on this time last year – from 391,493 head to 338,376 head. This is much greater than that of between 2018 and 2017 – albeit only 2,160 was in the difference.

Although the graph paints a very downward trend in births for this month, it is only early days in the grand scheme of things and dairy births are expected to rise dramatically for the year ahead.