Farm Ireland

Sunday 19 November 2017

Report shows 14pc increase in heifer calves born to dairy bulls

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

The number of heifer calves born to dairy bulls increased by 38,465 (14pc) last year, rising from 267,735 to 306,200hd.

The figures are included in the latest report from cattle movement monitoring system (CMMS), which was published last week by the Department of Agriculture.

The number of heifers reflected a general increase in the number of calves born to dairy sires, with the total births up from 546,831 in 2008 to 625,449 last year. This is an increase of 79,068hd.

The rise in the number of dairy heifer calves will be welcomed across the sector, as a scarcity of replacements has been reflected in a lively mart trade for heifers and young cows. Prices for pedigree heifers have hit as high as €2,000, while those from good commercial herds are making from €1,300 to €1,700.

However, the CMMS data showed that 36.5pc of cows were put in calf to beef sires last year. Aberdeen Angus was the most popular beef breed among dairy farmers, with 14.5pc or 147,854 dairy cows and heifers being put in calf to them.

Hereford sires were used on 11pc of the dairy cows or 112,000hd. Charolais bulls were used on 2pc of dairy cows, with Belgian Blues on 2.4pc.

There was good news on the animal health front, with stock losses falling from 258,234hd in 2008 to 234,088hd last year.

The bulk of these losses was among calves and weanlings. Stock under a year old accounted for 45pc of the deaths at 117,473hd. Calves under six weeks of age made up 22pc of total losses, accounting for 51,858 of the on-farm deaths.

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The number of stillborn calves was also well down, dropping from 42,545 to 27,886.

Irish Independent