Total calf births head towards the 2 million head mark

A total of 1.7 million dairy and beef calves have been registered so far this year, figures from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) show.

In relation to dairy, so far this year, nearly 1.24 million dairy calves have been registered on dairy farms. This is an increase of 1.8% or 21,438 head on the same period in 2018.

This is no surprise considering dairy cow numbers reached almost 1.5 million head last year – an increase of 48,200 or 3.4% from the previous year.

Looking at the figures on a weekly basis, dairy calf registrations are behind on the same week last year (week ending May 17) at 22,301 head compared to 28,242 head the year before – a fall of 5,941 head.

This is indicative of the improvements dairy farmers are making in their breeding strategy – to achieve a compact-calving pattern.

Despite the rise in total calf births, beef calf births are 36,234 head or 7% behind this time last year – at 483,594 head and it is expected that total beef calf registrations will fall for a further consecutive year in 2019.


One of the main reasons for this fall in beef births is the decline of the suckler herd in Ireland. The central statistics office (CSO) revealed a fall in other cow numbers by 3.1% between 2017 and 2018 and by 2.1% between 2016 and 2017.

However, it must be noted that it is still relatively early in the year and many more beef calvings will occur as the year progresses.