The national dairy cow population has seen a hefty increase in recent years, according to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) – which released a county-by-county breakdown of cow numbers in 2017 today (Wednesday, May 2).

This is due to the abolition of quotas leading to expansion, the federation has explained.

The ICBF compiled the figures as of last June to see which counties are the most heavily populated.

From the results, it transpired that Co. Cork was by far the most populated county with a total of 370,564 dairy cows – over double that of its nearest competitor.

This figure is over 200,000 higher than the dairy cow population in Co. Tipperary, which is the second most highly-populated county with a figure of 164,245, according to the ICBF.

Meanwhile, Co. Limerick came in third position for dairy cow numbers – with a figure of 117,400 cows.

Source: ICBF

Co. Kerry is not far behind, with 103,172 dairy cows – the last of the counties to break the six-digit figure mark.

At the other end of the scale, Co. Leitrim had the smallest population with just 2,651 dairy cows. The second least populated county is Co. Dublin, with a ‘county herd’ of 3,202 dairy cows – less than half the population of the third lowest.

This is Co. Roscommon, which recorded a dairy cow population of 7,012 head.

For comparative purposes, the ICBF has also provided a dairy cow breakdown from June 2016 – showing notable increases in most counties during that 12-month period.

Source: ICBF

From this, it can be seen that eight counties experienced a decrease in cow numbers of some sort. These included counties: Kerry; Mayo; Sligo; Leitrim; Donegal; Longford; Cavan; Monaghan; and Dublin.

Of these, the most dramatic reduction was seen in Co. Kerry – which had 2,371 less dairy cows as of June 2017 than the same period in 2016.

Co. Kerry was also the only county in the southern half of the country to witness a population decrease.

Meanwhile, Co. Mayo experienced a dip of 612 cows, Co. Cavan lost 353 cows overall, and Co. Monaghan saw numbers slip by 271.

After these, figure reductions were relatively small with: Co. Sligo down by 78; Co. Donegal by 43; Co. Leitrim by 16; Co. Dublin by 10; and Co. Longford by seven cows.