The total number of dairy cows in NI increased by 2% in the 12 months to June 2016 to a record high level of 317,100 head, according to final results from the June agricultural census published last week by DAERA.

The NI dairy herd has increased significantly in size from a 15-year low of 279,500 in 2013. Since then, the increase in numbers mainly came in 2014 (294,192) and 2015 (311,520). The current level is significantly higher than the average over the last 10 years of 291,120. The figures suggest that one of the main responses of farmers to falling milk prices since 2013 was to keep more cows and produce more milk.