Early calf registrations running almost 70,000 head behind 2016 levels
Latest figures on calf registrations reported by the Irish Cattle Breeding Association indicates births running significantly behind 2016
According to the latest ICBF figures, total 2017 calf births up to the week ending February 10, are down 20pc compared to the same period last year. To date farmers have registered some 246,000 calves in 2017.
Dairy calf registrations so far in 2017 are running some 30pc or approximately 58,000 head behind 2016 levels. Meanwhile, beef calf registrations have also been lower so far this year down over 10,000 head on 2016.
While the figures are quite dramatic, often registration figures vary significantly early in the year as busy farmers struggle to get time to register calves.
In spite of the continuing fall in milk prices in 2016, the removal of milk quotas saw Irish milk production increase by an estimated 5pc.
According to Teagasc, this was achieved entirely through an increase in cow numbers of over 7pc while on average milk yields appear to have declined slightly in 2016, it says.
It is reasonable to expect that, given a recovery in net margin in milk production, further expansion in milk production will occur in 2017.
Teagasc has said that this expansion will be based on increased cow numbers and yield improvement, with a national average increase of 6pc forecast relative to the 2016 level.