One third of beef farmers in Ireland intend to increase the number of suckler cows on their farms, according to a new report by AIB.

The report also found that 26% and 22% of farmers respectively plan to increase the number of heifers and steers on their farms in the next three years, according to the survey.

Half (48%) of farmers in Leinster are planning to increase the number of suckler cows they have, compared to three out of 10 farmers in the rest of the country, the survey found.

Some 26% of farmers aged over 60 years of age intend to increase their suckler herd and also half (49%) of farmers aged under the age of 45 intend to do so, the AIB survey found.

The survey found that farmers who are farming the largest area (over 50ha) are most likely to plan to increase suckler numbers (38%).

However, the AIB survey found that 34% of those farming less than 30ha intend to do so also.

It found that those planning to reduce their suckler numbers are more likely to be aged between 45 and 69 years of age, farming over 50ha, have an of-farm job and experienced financial difficulties in 2013/14.

While it may appear contradictory that those farming the largest areas are most likely to be both considering increasing and reducing their suckler numbers, this reflects the fact that the largest scaled farms are more likely to make changes in their suckler enterprise in the next three years, it says.