Dairy farmers in east Cork, Waterford and Kilkenny will lead the dairy expansion drive, as Teagasc projects the three areas will see farmers increase their milk output by 60% by 2020.
Regional analyais by Teagasc shows that the region, where 30% of farmers are dairy farmers, will see these farmers increase production by 20-50% over the next five years.
There are currently 2,300 dairy farmers in east Cork, with a significant number of herds in excess of 100 cows.
Next door, in west Cork, where the average farm size in West Cork 35.2ha, compared to a national average of 32.7ha, and where there are more farms in the categories 30-100ha than nationally, a regional milk output increase of 35-40% is planned.
To achieve this dairy expansion existing dairy farmers, together with drystock farmers converting to dairying must deliver 7-10% more milk per year for the next five years.
In the Waterford/Kilkenny region, where the average farm size of 44.7ha (the largest of any region in the country) and the standard output per farm as measured by the CSO is almost double the national average, milk output is expected to increase by 60% in the next five years, Teagasc says.
This level of dairy expansion will be achieved by increasing the average herd size in the region by 23% and the average milk yield by 30%, Teagasc predicts.
Based on consultation with Teagasc clients, dairy advisors and milk processors, Teagasc is targeting a 50% increase in milk supplied by farmers which includes an increase of 60% in the areas of south Tipperary supplying Glanbia and Dairygold Co-op.
Westmeath, Offaly, Cavan, Monaghan
Teagasc says that the four counties of Westmeath, Offaly, Cavan and Monaghan will see a 40% increase in milk supplies through dairy expansion in the region.
It is anticipated that a 50% growth in milk supplies will occur in Westmeath/Offaly with a 30-35% growth in Cavan/Monaghan.
Dairy farming is the dominant enterprise in Kerry and Limerick and the region is a major producer of milk. At the end of 2013, the Region had a dairy cow population of 190,603 cows, supplying 1.028 billion litres of milk and accounts for 17% of the national dairy herd.
By 2020, the number of dairy farmers in the Kerry/Limerick Region will be approximately 3,000 farmers and according to Teagasc, current trends indicate that dairy cow numbers in Limerick are increasing more rapidly than in Kerry.
It is predicting that approximately 20% of dairy farmers will maintain cow numbers, half will expand by 20% while another 20% will expand will expand by up to 50%. A small number are forecast to expand by greater than 50%.
Wexford, Wicklow, Carlow
It is envisaged that there will be a 40% increase in milk output in the region in the next five years, in counties Wexford, Wicklow and Carlow.
Teagasc says is expects that most of the dairy expansion will come from existing farmers with a small number coming
from conversions from drystock and tillage to dairy.