Map: How many suckler cows are there in each county of Ireland?
Data released by the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) shows that the national suckler cow herd totals just 934,273 cows – a decline of 42,065 head on 2018 levels.
On top of this, many would argue that further a reduction will be witnessed once the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) comes to an end this year.
Moreover, over the last four years the number of suckler cows in Ireland has declined year-on-year. In fact, from 2016 to 2019 the national herd decreased by 83,936 cows.
Co. Galway continues to lead the way in terms of the suckler cow population – with a total of 97,732 head. However, this is a fall of 3,303 head from 2018.
This figure is circa 25,000 head higher than in Co. Mayo – the second highest populated county (with a figure of 72,558 head).
In third place comes Co. Clare (68,374 head), followed closely by Co. Cork (65,559 head).
Looking at the other end of the spectrum, the least populated county (for suckler cows) is Co. Dublin (3,948 head).
The second least populated county is Co. Louth (9,400 head). And, finally, Co. Carlow – the ‘Dolmen County’ – completes the lower end of the table (14,538 head).Also Read: Beef Industry Review: Where to in 2020?
Naturally, this decline was echoed when it came to suckler calf registrations in 2019. In total, 59,638 calves were registered up until December 27, 2019 – a decrease of 27,223 head on 2018.
Many farmers would argue that fewer suckler cow and calf numbers might put them in a better position to achieve higher prices – relying on the premise of ‘supply and demand’.
However, this decline will be partially offset by the rearing and finishing of calves from the dairy herd – a practice that is expected to continue to expand here in Ireland in the years ahead.