Farm Ireland

Monday 23 April 2018

What will the 'average' dairy farm in Ireland look like in 2025?

Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

When Ireland joined the EU in 1973 the average dairy farm was just 15 cows and there were 83,000 milk suppliers in the country, delivering an average of 31,000L.

In the first eight years of membership, total milk production increased by almost 50pc, driven by both an increase in cow numbers and productivity per cow.

By 1980 Ireland was down to 70,000 milk suppliers, while the quantity of milk increased by over 80pc.

Now, after 30 odd years of milk quotas in Ireland, there are just over 17,500 dairy farmers in Ireland milking an average of 80 cows, as part of a national herd size of 1.14m cows.

According to Teagasc the dairy sector in Ireland will continue to evolved and by 2025 the potential average dairy farm will look quite different. The number of dairy farmers will fall, but to around 16,500 - but of that 1,500 will be new entrants.

Dairy cow numbers will increase to 1.7m, while the average herd size will increase to over 100 cows.

Percentage of farms achieving selectedTeagasc Dairying Road Map targets. Source Teagasc.
Percentage of farms achieving selectedTeagasc Dairying Road Map targets. Source Teagasc.

Average milk delivered per farm will increase to over 570,000L, at almost 3.6pc protein and 4.25pc butterfat.

National milk solids production (kg fat plus protein) will have increased by over 100pc compared to 2007-2009.

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Ireland’s milk production will grow significantly over the next decade, Teagasc predicts, but milk price volatility will continue to be a feature of dairy markets.

Milk of a higher quality will be required for the production of higher value products, including infant milk formula, it says.

Dairy farms will become increasingly specialised with many activities out sourced, creating a demand for a larger farm contracting sector.

There is a requirement for an increased number of young, trained dairy farmers and skilled dairy farm operatives.

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