What does the future hold for Irish cattle numbers?

Irish cattle supplies are likely to increase by 100,000 in 2017 to 1.71m head, according to Teagasc Beef Specialist Aidan Murray.

Speaking at Teagasc’s Finishing Cattle this Winter Seminar in Cillin Hill, Murray said supplies are likely to increase in both 2016 and 2017 due to a combination of higher calf births and lower cattle exports.

The Teagasc Specialist said that these are two important factors that farmers need to bear in mind in advance of purchasing stock for winter finishing.

“The implications of that is that basically we would have to go back to 2007-2008 since we killed those type of numbers.

“All I can think about is when there were extra numbers in 2014, and particularly the spring of 2014, and we know what the scenario there was then,” he said.

Murray also said that approximately 50,000-60,000 extra cattle will be slaughtered in Ireland in 2016.

We have seen about 31,000 or slightly more go through, so there is more to come through between now and the end of the year.

He also said that cattle supplies have been increasing on a weekly basis at Irish plants over the past two-to-three weeks, with supplies increasing by about 1,800 each week.

Along with the higher cattle supplies this year, Murray told the 300 strong crowd in attendance that live exports of Irish cattle have dropped this year while births have increased.

He said that Irish cattle exports have declined by 25% this year, while an extra 50,000 calves have been born on Irish farms.

“In 2015 suckler registrations were up by about 19,000 head while dairy were up 97,000 head which gave us about 116,000 extra cattle within the system.

“This year, overall calf births are up about 2.6% to the end of September so that’s about 50,000 head.

We have had about a 69,000 head increase in 2016 over 2015 figures from the dairy herd and we have actually gone back by about 19,000 in the suckler herd.

“There is an overhang there potentially coming into the system in 2017 and again in 2018 assuming they are gong out of the system in around 24 months,” he said.

This overhang could result in an increase of 100,000 extra cattle in both 2017 and 2018, he said.

Key statistics
  • National beef kill up 31,200 head
  • Live exports are down 25%
  • Higher calf registrations in 2015-2016