As of June 2014, there were 294,200 dairy cows in Northern Ireland, an increase of 5.2% from 2013, figures from the Statistical Review of Northern Ireland Agriculture show.
The statistical review was compiled by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) Northern Ireland.
In dairy production the annual average dairy cow population in 2014 was 3.6% higher than 2013 at 290,200 head, DARD says. Average gross milk yield/cow increased from 7,290 litres in 2013 to 7,690 litres in 2014; a 5.5% rise, it says.
DARD says this may be attributable in part to the good grazing conditions during much of 2014 compared to the difficult spring weather conditions experienced in 2013
“The increased milk yield and the higher cow numbers combined to deliver a 9.4% rise in total output at 2.2 billion litres, which is a new record level of production in Northern Ireland.
The average gross milk price for 2014 was 6.5% lower than 2013 at 29.73p/l.
“The movements in average milk price across the period shown in this publication are a reflection of the fact that Northern Ireland is dependent on global commodity markets, where prices were rising throughout much of 2013 but have been falling during 2014,” the review says.
The review says that overall, the value of output of milk increased by £15 million or 2.3% in 2014, to £654 million.
There was 254,900 beef cows in the North in June 2014, a decrease of 5.6% compared to 2013, the statistics show.
The number of clean or finished cattle sold during 2014 decreased by 19,100 or 6% to 300,800 head, it says. The number of slaughtered steers increased by 8% to 130,700 head and the number of heifers slaughtered increased by 0.6% to 118,000 head, the review says.
The figures show that the number of young bulls slaughtered decreased by 36% to 43,900. The proportion of steers slaughtered increased from 39% in 2013 to 45% in 2014, while the proportion of heifers increased from 38% in 2013 to 40% in 2014, it says.
“The proportion of young bulls slaughtered decreased from 22% in 2013 to 15% in 2014. The remaining cattle in the 300,800 number sold were exported live,” it says.
Total receipts from cull cattle sales dropped by 21% to £65m in 2014, the figures show. DARD says that the number of calves presented for slaughter in 2014 increased by 44% to 9,157 head. Calf exports in the North were 11% higher than 2013 levels, with an estimated 30,138 calves exported, it says.
DARD says the average calf price was 20% higher than 2013 levels at £297 per head and the revenue generated amounted to £12m.
“Overall, the value of output of cattle and calves in 2014 (which deducts the value of imported cattle but includes breeding cattle exports and store exports) fell by 15% to £376m,” DARD says.