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Ireland leads increases in milk production in EU

Ireland is ahead of the pack when it comes to increasing national milk output ahead of quota abolition, European dairy production figures show.

Ireland produced 11pc more milk from January-September this year than it did in the same period last year.

This 11pc increase was by far the biggest national increase recorded across the EU member states.

France, Latvia and Austria recorded the next highest national increases, at 5.4pc, 4.9pc and 3.9pc higher year-on-year respectively.

Britain, Spain, Germany, Holland and Poland all recorded national increases of up to 3pc in the same period.

Milk production fell dramatically in Bulgaria (-11.2pc), while Romania (-6pc) and Hungary (-6.5pc) also fell considerably year-on-year.

The expansion trend in Ireland looks set to continue, with figures from the ICBF showing that dairy cow numbers are expected to increase by 2.5pc next year.

The ICBF analysis also shows a projected 4.1pc increase in cow numbers in 2013.

There are substantial regional differences to these trends, with counties such as Kilkenny expected to see increases in the order of 4.5pc for the next two years, while other counties, for example Dublin and Wicklow, are expected to see record decreases.

Cork, which has the highest number of dairy cows in the country at 274,539, is expected to record an 2.4pc increase next year and a 3.8pc rise in 2013. This would bring the county's dairy cow population to 291,991 by 2013.

However, the ICBF warned that the overall expected increase was based on historical county and national trends and were dependent on future industry circumstances such as milk price, quota availability, weather and efficiency.

"Each of these could result in a net increase/decrease in either the number of disposals and/or the number of calved animals coming forward on an annual basis, with consequential effects on the projected estimates," the report warned.

However, it added: "Indications from the current breeding season, in terms of levels of dairy AI usage and also use of dairy stock bulls, suggests that the increase in cow numbers presented for 2012 (+2.5pc) and 2013 (+4.1pc) will continue for 2014."

The ICBF predicted a 3.2pc increase in cow numbers for the past year, while the actual increase came in close to the estimate at 3.1pc.

Caitriona Murphy

Indo Farming