Almost 30 per cent of dairy cows in the country are in County Cork, which also has the highest level of specialist dairy farms, although beef remains the top farm enterprise in the north and east of the county.
That’s according to a new series of regional reviews published by Teagasc in recent days.
The number of farms in the county as a whole has dropped by more than 500 (3.5 per cent), although the average farm size has increased by half a hectare.
This is a trend borne out in other parts of the country, including neighbouring Kerry and Limerick, and one Teagasc official has told The Corkman that this can largely be put down to succession issues. Often, where a successor is not in place, a farm will be taken over by someone who is already farming.
In the Cork East region – which includes Mallow, Fermoy, Mitchelstown, Buttevant, Charleville, Kanturk, Millstreet and Ballydesmond – the regional dairy herd contains just over 240,000 cows. There are more than 415,000 beef cattle in the region, 33,000 sucklers, and 114,000 sheep, 30,000 of which are ewes.
The average dairy farmer in Cork East has 95 cows. At almost 30 per cent, the entire county has the highest level of specialist dairy enterprises.
There are 16 commercial pig farms in Cork East at an average herd size of 990.
“The most significant enterprise in the Cork East region is beef with 2,880 specialist beef producers but closely followed by specialist dairy at 2,237 farms. Dairy advisory staff in the region almost double the drystock reflecting the complexity of the farm businesses involved,” said Cork East Regional Manager John Horgan.
“Factoring in beef producers in mixed grazing and mixed cropping groups, then almost 60 per cent of the farms have a beef enterprise. Total flock numbers in the region are 271 with total sheep numbers 114,305 of which 29,641 are ewes. Specialist tillage makes up eight per cent of the farms [and] nationally this stands at three per cent.
“I would like to acknowledge the hard work of staff in Cork East and commend our stakeholders for their ongoing support – in particular the four dairy co-ops, Dairygold, Glanbia, North Cork Co-op and Kerry; all the farm organisations and the many stakeholders involved from time to time on specific problem issues – for example LAWPRO, Cork County Council, DAFM, local contractors and merchants among others.”