Archive: Increase in Northern Irish milking herd

Published 2 December 14

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Dairy cow numbers in Northern Ireland (NI) have increased by 5.3% compared to the previous year according to the most recent June census data released by the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD NI). The NI dairy herd now totals 294,200 head, 14,700 head more than in the previous year. This suggests that dairy farmers may have expanded their herds in response to relatively high farmgate milk prices seen in the period leading up to June 2014.

Dairy cow numbers in NI are now at their highest reported level since June 2002. Interestingly, milk production has grown at a faster rate than herd size with June 2014 production 15.3% higher than in June 2002. The graph below suggests that the influence of factors such as improving milk yields, weather conditions and input levels may therefore be increasing. As a result, the correlation between cow numbers and milk production may be less strong than it has been in the past.

NI cow numbers