More suckler producers are targeting the live export trade by selecting Belgian Blue bulls, the latest cattle breeding statistics have shown.
The 2011 Animal Identification and Movement system report shows that, once again, the number of calves born to Belgian Blue sires has increased.
Between 2008 and last year, the number of Belgian Blue calves born in Ireland has increased from 5.2pc to 7.9pc of all calves born to beef dams.
The 2011 data shows that 80,460 Belgian Blue calves were born to beef dams, compared to 55,690 such calves in 2009.
However, Charolais and Limousin bulls remain the most popular sires of calves from beef dams, accounting for almost 70pc of all beef calves born last year.
Some 369,934 Charolais calves were born to beef dams last year, while 329,217 Limousin calves were born.
Meanwhile, the number of cattle in the national herd, including both beef and dairy breeds, rose from 5,825,851 head in 2010 to 5,858,249 head last year.
While the average herd size changed only slightly from 55 cattle to 55.3 between 2010 and 2011, there was an increase in the number of herds over 100 cattle.
In 2010, some 17,133 herds contained more than 100 cattle, while last year this figure rose by almost 200 herds to 17,332.