Full-year 2018 and 2017 data from the Department of Agriculture's animal identification and movement system (AIMS) show a continued decrease in beef dam breeds but certain beef bull numbers are increasing.

Table 1: the top 10 sire & dam breeds for 2017/2018

The Friesian breed continues to dominate with an increase of 16,719 sires and 42,203 dams in 2018 compared to 2017 data. Limousin on the other hand continues to fall with a reduction of 18,037 sires and 13,975 dams in 2018.

The following beef dams all experience a decrease in 2018:

  • Limousin, -4%.
  • Charolais, -9%.
  • Simmental, -5%.
  • Hereford, -1%.
  • Aberdeen Angus -2%.
  • Notably, some beef breeds had an increase in sire numbers. These include Aberdeen Angus (2%), Hereford (4%) and Simmental (3%). Use of these beef bulls has primarily risen in the dairy system.

    Calf numbers

    In 2018, 1,561,148 calves were born to beef bulls, a decrease of 24,296 from the previous year. On the other hand, 786,816 calves were born to dairy bulls, an increase of 22,100.

    The data points to a continued decline in beef numbers as dairy herds expand.

    Cork had the highest number of calves born to beef bulls in 2018 with 229,877 births recorded up by 5,339 on 2017 numbers. Cork also had the highest number of dairy calves born to dairy bulls with 786,816 births recorded, up by just 662 on 2017 data.

    Dublin had the lowest number of beef and dairy bull calves born in 2018 with only 5,616 births recorded collectively. Dublin also took the title for lowest number of calves born to dairy bulls in 2018 from Leitrim, which had only 1,185 births recorded in 2017.