Beef calf numbers plummet
THERE was a massive drop in the number of calves born to beef sires last year, new Department of Agriculture cattle movement monitoring system (CMMS) figures reveal.
Latest figures for last year published by the Department reveal that the number of calves born to beef bulls fell to 1,409,933 last year.
This represented a drop of more than 14pc from the previous year's total of 1,640,115.
Stocking rates on Irish suckler farms have fallen to their lowest levels in five years, and the latest CMMS data confirms the decline in the beef herd.
Figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) in December also showed a fall of 4.1pc in beef cows and a drop of 9.7pc in beef breeding heifers.
Teagasc beef expert Liam Fitzgerald said the falling numbers would have serious implications for beef farms where the stocking rate is one of the prime functions of beef output and profitability.
"It takes €500-600 to keep a suckler cow each year and, with weanling calves only making about €550/hd, the cow isn't even covering the value of the calf," Mr Fitzgerald said.
As well as the lack of profitability, Mr Fitzgerald said the age profile of farmers was the second biggest contributing factor to declining beef cow numbers.