Average herd size set to reach 100 cows by 2018
Statistics point towards more consolidation in the dairy sector
Published 21/09/2016 | 02:30
Ireland has always been a significant player in the world dairy scene.
In 1769, the Cork Committee of Merchants set up the Cork Butter Market, it flourished in the 18th and 19th century, establishing itself as an important world commercial centre, exporting butter to all four continents.
Today, we are experiencing a similar new era - with the rapid expansion occurring in milk production since the removal of EU milk quotas on April 1, 2015. Milk powders are the new white gold produced on the grass-based Irish dairy farms. What are the numbers for Irish dairying, and what is happing at farm level around the country?
Dairy cow numbers are presently 1.42 million head, which is more or less the same as 40 years ago. Numbers did drop below 1.2 million during the milk quota years but have recovered since the announcement that they would be removed.
This expansion seems set to continue despite recent low milk prices as our well-developed low-cost, grass-based systems of milk production help us win new dairy markets into the future.
Dairy farmer numbers have fallen from 144,000 in 1975 to around 17,000 today. In fact, we do not know exactly how many dairy farmers are in the country today as the Department of Agriculture has no legislative basis to gather supplier details from milk processors since the removal of milk quotas.