During 2019, there were 223,241 beef-sired calves registered to suckler cows in Northern Ireland, according to the Livestock and Meat Commission.
This was a decline of 2,191 calves from 2018 levels and is the third consecutive year in which registrations have recorded a decline.
“While calf registrations to suckler cows have declined overall during 2019, the most notable declines were recorded in the first half of the year.”
In the period January-June 2019, there were 148,143 calves registered to suckler cows, back five per cent or 7,012 head from the same period in 2018. However, the LMC added, in the second half of 2019 there was some recovery in calf registrations to suckler cows with 75,098 calves registered.
This was an increase of seven per cent or 4,821 head from the same period in 2018. “While the Northern Ireland suckler herd remains predominantly spring-calving, this does indicate some spreading in the calving pattern in the region which will influence the availability of cattle for slaughter further down the line.”
Beef-cross calf registrations
While calf registrations to suckler cows have continued to decline the number of beef sired calves registered to dairy cows has increased.
During 2019 there were 124,651 beef-cross calves registered in Northern Ireland, an increase of 4,685 head or four per cent from 2018 levels. These beef cross calves accounted for 36 per cent of all beef sired calves registered in Northern Ireland during 2019.
“This proportion has been steadily increasing in recent years, up from 23 per cent in 2012.” the LMC added.
Dairy male calf registrations
“While a proportion of dairy-sired male calves are exported out of Northern Ireland for further production, they are also an important source of throughput for local beef processors.”
During 2019, there were 71,403 of these animals registered. This was back from 74,795 head in 2018 and the fourth consecutive year in which they have declined.
“The improving effectiveness of sexed semen has reduced the number of cows dairy producers are serving using a dairy sire.”
“This increases the number of dairy cows being covered by beef bulls which produce higher value calves for beef production and provide an additional source of income for the dairy producer.” the LMC concluded.