The latest Animal Identification and Movement (AIM) data published by the Department of Agriculture for 1 December 2021 shows almost 80,000 extra beef cattle on farms compared with 1 December 2020.

As detailed in Figure 1, this includes 57,960 extra cattle in the 18- to 24-month age bracket.

This can be further broken down in to 35,936 beef-sired males, 17,907 beef-sired heifers and 4,127 extra dairy males.

There was also 21,208 extra cattle on farms in the 24- to 30-month age bracket on 1 December 2021. This includes 19,024 dairy males, 1,245 beef-sired males and 939 beef-sired heifers.

The higher figures are stemming from lower live export levels in 2020 and continued growth in the national dairy herd.

Higher beef kill

The greater number of beef cattle on farms combined with keen demand from factory agents and higher prices is contributing to the higher levels of throughput witnessed in recent weeks.

The latest kill data for the week ending 12 February was recorded at 38,220 head. This compares with 31,225 head for the corresponding week in 2021, with year-to-date throughput running 13,325 head higher.

Continued growth in dairy herd

Tables 1 and 2 show a detailed breakdown of the national herd.

As can be seen in Table 2, expansion in the national dairy herd is continuing at a significant rate, with 48,083 more dairy cows on farms on 1 December 2021 compared with the situation 12 months previous.

The number of dairy cows was recorded at 1.52m head on December 2021, with numbers peaking in April and May at 1.65m dairy cows. There was also 33,390 more dairy heifers on farms reflecting the fact that the dairy herd is forecast to continue to expand.

In contrast, the number of suckler cows on farms continues to decline, with 873,195 head recorded on 1 December. This equates to a reduction of 31,668 head on the previous 12-month period.