Farm output shows big growth in North
Farm output is growing strongly in Northern Ireland, especially in the key dairy and beef sectors.
The latest figures from the Department of Agriculture in the North show that 2011 milk production was 11pc higher than 2009, mainly as a result of rising milk yields.
However, the number of in-calf heifers under two years of age is up by 16pc over the same period, indicating that cow numbers are likely to increase significantly over the coming 12 months. Milk sales from the North into the South have increased significantly over the last 10 years.
The beef breeding herd also showed big increases in numbers, with in-calf beef heifers under two years up by 15pc in the last 12 months.
Suckler cows are up over 6.5pc since 2009.
However, beef cattle for slaughter have dropped in number, possibly on the back of strong factory prices over the last 12 months. As a result, overall beef cattle numbers have remained relatively static over the last two years in the North.
The Northern sheep flock is also set for expansion with breeding flock numbers up by 4pc on 2010 -- the highest year-end breeding flock numbers since 2005. Lambs under one year old are also up by 13pc, leading to an overall increase in sheep flock numbers over the last year of 5pc or 66,000 head.
Pig numbers are relatively static on the back of poor returns in the sector. However, the biggest drop was seen in the arable sector, where the total area of cereals collapsed by 34pc in 2011. The biggest fall was in the wheat acreage which fell by 40pc or 12,500ac.