Some 26% of suckler farmers reduced cow numbers this year when compared with the cows they kept in 2023, according to the results of the latest Irish Farmers Journal survey.

Another 57% of the 372 suckler farmers surveyed expect to maintain numbers, while 17% plan on growing their herds.

Just under a quarter of beef finishers stated that they will finish fewer cattle this year than they did in 2023, with 63% reporting that they intend to finish the same number and 14% expect to finish more.

The survey was conducted after successive weeks of factories’ 5c/kg beef price pulls.


While more farmers expect to cut numbers now than had planned on doing so at the end of last year, a far higher proportion of farmers plan on keeping numbers steady in comparison with the same time two years ago.

When asked on herd plans for 2024 last December, only 19% of suckler farmers surveyed stated that they expected to scale back.

An Irish Farmers Journal survey conducted in May 2022, against a backdrop of spiralling fertiliser and meal costs, saw the majority of suckler farmers respondents reporting that they were planning on reducing stock numbers.

Two-thirds of these farmers had planned on cutting their herd numbers by more than 10%.

Department of Agriculture animal identification and movement (AIM) figures show that there were just over 800,800 suckler cows on farms on 1 April which represents a drop of more 45,000-head on the same date in 2023.