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Slight Increase In Calfbirth Registrations In 2010

11 March 2011

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - Last year, following several years of decline in the number of calf births recorded within the NI cattle population, the number of births registrations on NI farms increased by one percent.

Last year, the number of beef-sired calves registered was up by 2,240 head compared to the previous year, while the total number of dairy-sired calves born was more or less the same. In total, just over 480,000 calves were registered in NI last year. Of these, two thirds were registered as beef breeds and the remainder were sired by dairy bulls.

The increase in the number of beef-sired calves registered represents a stabilisation in the beef herd following consecutive years of decline since 2005. In 2005, beef calf birth registrations stood at 385,000 head. By 2009 numbers had fallen by just under 20 per cent to 310,000 head. In 2010, beef sired calf births stood at 313,000 head.

Registrations of dairy calves in 2010 was down slightly (-255) on the previous year, with heifer calf numbers down by around 600 and male calf numbers up by around 400 head. It is the number of these male calves that has the greatest bearing on the availability of beef for slaughter in the next year or two. This stabilisation of numbers follows consecutive years of increased dairy calf births since 2005. In 2005, dairy calf births stood at 136,000 head. By 2009, numbers had increased to 168,000 head and in 2010 numbers remained at that level.

The latest census figures from DARD (December Census) show that in December 2010, there was a three per cent year on year increase (+9,000 head) in the number of beef cows on the ground, with the number of beef heifers-in-calf up by eight per cent (+3,600 head). The increased breeding cow numbers indicate that we ought to expect further increases in beef calf births over the course of the next year and with dairy cow numbers also up slightly, it is likely that birth numbers will be up generally in 2011.

This stabilisation in beef calf numbers is perhaps a sign of increased confidence in late 2009 / early 2010 when breeding decisions were made. However, it must be seen in the context of the substantial decline in beef numbers over the last number of years and will do little to reverse the growing dependency on the industry on imported stores and beef from the dairy herd.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

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