How many suckler cows are in Ireland?

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed has provided updates regarding the definition of the suckler cow as seen by his department, and the most recent count of suckler cows in Ireland.

The minister was responding to a parliamentary question on the matter from independent TD for Roscommon-Galway Michael Fitzmaurice, who queried the exact definition.

In his answer, the minister said that the Department of Agriculture’s Animal Identification Movement (AIM) system which collects and collates information on animal movements in the Irish State, defines a suckler beef cow as: “A beef cow who has calved at least once in her lifetime by the end of December each calendar year.”

There were 951,397 suckler cows registered on the department’s AIM system at the end of December 2018, the minister noted.

This is a slight variation on the definition provided by the Department of Agriculture to AgriLand last year.

In a more specific summation, provided in January 2018, the department defined the suckler cow as “a beef / beef cross female aged more than or equal to 18 months on December 31 of every year between 2010 and 2017 and registered as the dam of a calf born in the profile year”.

Going by the department’s definition then, as of December 31, 2017, the number of suckler cows stood at 870,567 – almost 80,000 less than the most recent figure under the current description.