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HomeBeefSuckler cow numbers continue to drop
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Suckler cow numbers continue to drop

Suckler cow numbers continue to drop in Ireland.

According to the latest release from the CSO (Central Statistics Office), suckler cow numbers fell by over 40,000 from June 2020 to June 2021.

Suckler cow numbers drop 

Suckler cow numbers decreased by 4.4% or 43,000 head in the respective period.

Meanwhile, the number of dairy cows has increased by 36,800, up 2.4% on the same period last year.

According to the CSO, the national suckler herd stood at 940,300 compared to 983,800 the previous June and 999,700 cows in 2019.

Dairy farming

Meanwhile, dairy cow numbers stood at 1.604.5m this June, compared to 1.567.7m the previous year and 1,504.8m in June 2019.

Overall, total cattle numbers increased 44,500 (+0.6%) to 7,358,900.

The total number of cattle less than two years increased by 132,700 (+3.4%). In contrast, the number of cattle two years and over decreased by 80,300 (-10.1%).

Sheep farming 

The June 2021 results also show that sheep numbers are moving upwards, with more 78,300 (+1.4%) to 5,609,400.

According to the CSO, breeding sheep increased by 115,400 (+4.1%). On the other hand, other sheep (non-breeding sheep) decreased by 37,200 (-1.4%).

Ram numbers remained “relatively unchanged”, reporting a 0.2% increase. 

Tillage farming

Preliminary estimates for June 2021 show that the area under cereals increased by 5,400 hectares (ha) (+2.0%) to 272,000 ha compared to June 2020.

The area under wheat was up by 14,400 (+30.6%) to 61,400 ha, while the area under oats rose by 2,400 ha (+9.3%) to 27,800 ha. The area under barley decreased by 12,100 ha (-6.3%) to 181,100 ha.

The area under potatoes decreased by 300 (ha) (-3.5%) to 8,600 ha. 

5 main KPIs for the suckler herd

“For the Irish suckler herd to survive into the future, it is my opinion that there are five the main KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) areas that we need to focus on or will be asked to focus on.”

That is the belief of Charlie Devaney, beef advisor, Teagasc Castlerea, who stated that the Irish suckler herd “has some major challenges facing it over the coming years”.

“The reality is that the current situation cannot continue. The question now is: will it be the carrot or stick method that forces this change?” he asked.

  1. Calving interval
  2. Calves per cow per year;
  3. Recycled cows;
  4. Heifers calved at 24 months;
  5. AI usage.

Read this article.

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