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Beef cow numbers fall by over 180,000

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If we look at CSO data and compare the year 2000 with 2019, dairy cow numbers have increased by 328,000 or 28%, writes Liam De Paor.   

However, beef cow numbers have fallen by 187,000 or 16 %, while ewe numbers have fallen by 1,626,000 or by 40 %. The total livestock units have fallen by 38 %.

So, there is no overstocking of grassland and room for further expansion of milk production as more dairy products are required to feed a growing world population.

Year Dairy cows Beef cows Ewes Total Livestock Units
June 2000 1,177 K 1,187 K 4,107 K
Livestock Units 1,177 K 890 K 452 K 2,519 K
June 2019 1,505 K 1,000 K 2,482  K
Livestock Units 1,505 K 750 K 285 K 4,045 K


Grassland and water pollution

Farmers are using more clover in their pastures and Clover synthesises N naturally.

Farmers are also using grass varieties which are 25% more responsive to N compared to old permanent pasture.

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There are no longer any water pollution problems caused by leakage of silage effluent or pig slurry as farmers have improved their forage conservation and slurry storage systems.

Forestry and renewable energy generation

22,000 landowners (83% farmers) have also planted 378,663 ha of forestry providing an outstanding natural resource to people and the environment and wildlife.

Forestry employs 12,000 people in rural Ireland.  The average rate of carbon storage in Irish forests is estimated to be over 4 tonnes of carbon/ha pa.

After wind energy, wood fuels are the largest contributor to renewable energy generation in Ireland.

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