There was an increase in beef-sired calf births registered in Northern Ireland during 2022, according to the Livestock and Meat Commissions’ (LMC’s) recent analysis of Animal and Public Health Information System (APHIS) information.

This increase, the LMC said, represents a reverse in the trend of declining beef calf births in the Northern Irish beef sector throughout the second half of the last decade.

Last year, 377,654 beef-sired calf births were registered on Northern Ireland farms, which is 6,999 more than 2021.

When compared to 2012, ten years ago, it is a 14.2% increase.

What is consistent between the years 2012 and 2022 however, is the most popular breed when it comes to sires.

In both years, the same six breeds accounted for over 90% of beef-sired calves. These are: Aberdeen Angus, Belgian Blue, Charolais, Hereford, Limousin and Simmental.

The most popular breed for beef siring in 2022 was Aberdeen Angus, which increased by 3% on 2021 levels, followed by Limousin and Charolais.

Overall, Aberdeen Angus was the most common breed of calves registered – both beef and dairy – in Northern Ireland last year, accounting for 18.6%. The LMC expects that this popularity will continue in 2023.

Beef-sired calves accounted for 69.5% of all calf births in Northern Ireland in 2022, with the remaining 30.5% being dairy.

Dairy calf births

During 2022, the most popular breed for dairy calves was Friesian, accounting for 49% of total dairy calf births last year.

However, while the most popular breed, it may be declining in popularity; in 2021, the Friesian breed accounted for 51% of total dairy calf births, and 62% in 2012.

Holstein remains the second most common dairy breed with Holstein calf registrations totalling 66,184 in 2022, up on 54,901 in 2012.

The number of dairy male calves has declined over the last decade, with 44,779 registered in 2022 and 90,462 registered in 2012 – a decline of over 50%.

This, the LMC said, reflects advances in the industry.