Further fall in liquid milk producer numbers looks likely

A fall in the number of winter liquid milk producers looks likely, as dairy calvings have dropped during the months of October and November this year.

October and November are two key months for winter milk calvings, but figures from the ICBF show that dairy births have declined by 9.38% or 4,936 head on the corresponding two-month period in 2015.

The number of dairy calvings dropped during the month of October, it shows, with dairy calvings down by 5.4% or 1,384 head on the same time last year.

However the severity of the drop increased in November, with 3,552 fewer calves (-13%) born on Irish dairy farms compared to the same month in 2015.

This year’s fall follows on from a continued decline in the number of dairy farmers opting to calve cows during the back end of the year.

Over the past decade the number of dairy farmers choosing to operate this method of milk production has been in decline.

Between 1995 and 2016, the number of Irish liquid milk producers dropped from 3,344 in 1995 to 1,982 in 2016 – a fall of 40%.

This change has occurred as many farmers have opted to move away from liquid milk systems to spring calving systems due to the lower costs associated with the latter method of production.

Dairy calving changes:
  • October: -1,384 head (-5.4%)
  • November: -3,552 head (-13%)
  • Cumulative dairy births: +65,201 head (+5%)

An extra 65,000 dairy births this year

Despite the fall in dairy births during the months of October and November, figures from the ICBF show that dairy calvings have increased over the entire year.

As of the week ending December 2, the number of dairy calvings on Irish farms had increased by 65,201 head (+5%) on 2015 levels.

Meanwhile the number of beef births has actually declined, figures from the ICBF show, falling to 911,133 head – a drop of almost 25,000 head on the same time in 2015.

Looking at the combined number of beef and dairy calvings so far this year, figures from the ICBF show that calvings have increased by 40,713 head (+1.85%) to reach 2.17m.

Source: ICBF
Source: ICBF