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Have Calf Registrations Stabilised in Northern Ireland?

19 November 2013

Limousin represents the biggest breed in calf registration data this year, says the Livestock and Meat Commission Northern Ireland, which has noted a return to last year's levels in calvings over September and October.

Beef sired calf registrations in NI have shown signs of stabilising in recent months with a total of 16,982 calves registered during October 2013. This is marginally more than the 16,958 calves registered during October 2012 and is the second consecutive month in which registrations have been higher than the corresponding months in 2012.

Figure 1 displays the number of beef sired calf registrations during 2012 and 2013. Calf registrations during the period February-August 2013 were behind the levels recorded in the corresponding period in 2012. This drop in the number of beef sired calves registered can be attributed back to
fertility problems as a result of the difficult production conditions during 2012.

The problems experienced with poor cow fertility and production difficulties have resulted in a reduction in beef sired calf registrations by 20,233 head when comparing 2013 to date and the
same period in 2012. Beef sired calf registrations continue to be dominated by a small number of
breeds, namely Limousin, Charolais, Aberdeen Angus, Simmental, Belgian Blue and Hereford.

Limousin continues to be the most popular sire choice in NI, accounting for 32 per cent of beef sire
calf registrations during 2013 to date with Charolais sired calves accounting for a further 27.2 per cent of calves registered during this period as indicated in Figure 2.

Analysis of calf registrations has also indicated that Aberdeen Angus and Hereford calves have accounted for a greater proportion of total beef sired calf registrations during 2013 to date when compared to the corresponding period in 2012.

During the first ten months of 2013 15.1 per cent of beef calves were Aberdeen Angus (+0.5 percentage points) despite a reduction in absolute numbers by 1,472 head. Meanwhile 4.3 per cent of beef calf registrations during the same period were Hereford (+0.8 percentage points) with the number of calves registered increasing by 1,506 head to 12,274 head.

Meanwhile total dairy sired calf registrations during October 2013 increased by 3.6 per cent on October 2012 levels to total 21,737 head. The number of dairy sired male calf registrations increased by five per cent to 10,056 head during October 2013 when compared to October 2012.

During the first ten months of 2013 71,165 dairy sired male calves were registered in NI compared to 73,172 head during the same period in 2012 (-3.6 per cent).

The number of dairy calves exported out of NI for further breeding and production has shown an increase between 2012 and 2013 as indicated in Figure 3. The largest majority of the calves exported are dairy sired males with 19,648 calves less than 42 days old exported out of NI during 2013 to date.

This is an increase of 2,870 head on the corresponding period in 2012 with the largest majority of calves exported from NI destined for bull beef production in Spain. In the period January-October
2012 a total of 14,421 calves were exported to Spain, accounting for 86 per cent of all calf exports. During the same period in 2013 calf exports to Spain increased to 17,639 head accounting for 90 per cent of all calf exports.

Italy has been the second most common destination for NI born calves with 1,352 calves exported during 2013 to date, accounting for seven per cent of all calf exports. In the corresponding period in 2012 826 calves were exported to Italy, accounting for five per cent of all calf exports. Many of the calves exported from NI to Italy are likely to be destined for veal production

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