Suckler cow numbers tumble as young farmers hop on board the dairy gravy train
The lure of the dairy gravy train has seen suckler cow numbers fall by up to 20pc in some eastern and south-eastern counties.
The county-by-county breakdown confirms that many younger farmers are opting to switch to dairying or calf-to-beef systems.
Beef cow numbers nationally have fallen almost 6pc over the past four years.
Figures from the Department of Agriculture AIMS database show there were almost 917,000 beef cows at the end of 2014 but this number had fallen to 864,500 last month.
The financial pressures of suckler farming in the west coast, where weather has also taken its toll, were evident. However, the sharpest decrease has taken place in eastern and south-eastern counties.
Suckler numbers in Waterford have fallen by 18.9pc from 22,400 to 18,240, while Kilkenny is down 11.9pc and Cork 8.4pc.
Some of these counties have also seen prominent beef men such as former IFA livestock chair Michael Doran make the switch.
The figures show suckler numbers are down 4.4pc in the border, midlands and west regions, dropping from 485,400 to 464,600 over the past four years.