Beef sired calf registrations in Northern Ireland during 2015 totalled 338,378 head, an 8% increase on the 312,818 registered in the North during 2014, according to the LMC.

This accounts for an increase of 25,560 registrations year-on-year, the LMC has stated, and brings beef sired calf registrations in the North to their highest recorded levels since 2008.

It attributes this increase to an increase in both suckler and dairy cow numbers on the North’s farms, as recorded in the June 2015 Agricultural Survey.

The number of dairy cows on farms in the North in June 2015 reached record levels and totalled 311,500 head, which the LMC stated is a 6% increase on the previous June.

Meanwhile the number of suckler cows on Northern Irish farms increased by 2% to 260,300 head in June 2015.

During 10 of the 12 months in 2015, the LMC stated that beef sired calf registrations were higher than the corresponding months in 2014.

Beef sired calf births in Northern Ireland continue to follow a seasonal pattern with registrations peaking in the spring and early summer, according to the LMC.

During the period March to June 2015 a total of 168,992 beef sired calves were registered accounting for 50% of total calf registrations in the North for 2015.

According to the LMC, the increase in the number of beef sired calf registrations in the North has led to a notable increase in the number of young beef sired cattle on the North’s farms.

During December 2015 there were 90,679 beef sired cattle on Northern Irish farms aged 0-6 months, a 9.7% increase on the 82,662 beef sired cattle in this age category during December 2014.

The number of beef sired cattle on Northern Irish farms aged 6-12 months during December 2015 was 226,456 head, a 7.9% increase compared to the previous year, it stated.

The number of beef sired cattle aged 12-18 months totalled 102,868 head in December 2015, an increase of 10.8% from December 2014 levels.

Meanwhile, the LMC stated that the number of cattle in the 18-24 month age category was similar to December 2014 levels while the number of cattle in the 24-30 month age category were back by 3.9% over the same period.

The number of prime cattle coming forward for slaughter in the North is expected to remain relatively steady during the first half of 2016 and increase thereafter when the increase in calf registrations over the last 18 months starts to impact on prime cattle supplies, according to the LMC.

Beef sired breeds

The most popular beef sires used in Northern Ireland continue to be Limousin and Charolais with 99,737 Limousin sired calves registered during 2015 and 86,226 Charolais calves registered, the LMC stated.

These accounted for 29.5% and 25.5% of total beef sired calf registrations respectively.

It found that the third most popular beef sire used in the North continues to be Aberdeen Angus with 58,425 calves registered and this accounted for 17.3% of total beef sired calf registrations during 2015.

Meanwhile Simmental calf registrations totalled 25,968 head during 2015, Hereford registrations totalled 22,841 and Belgian Blue totalled 18,962, the LMC stated.

During 2015 these six breeds accounted for 92.3% of the total beef sired calf registrations in the North.

Dairy origin beef calves

According to the LMC, the dairy herd continues to act as a valuable source of calves for beef production on Northern Irish farms.

During 2015, it stated that 29% of all beef sired calves registered in the North had dairy dams, a slight increase from 2014 levels when 27% of beef sired calves were sourced from the dairy herd.

A total of 96,858 beef sired calves were registered to dairy cows in 2015, this represents a 14% increase from the 84,966 beef sired calves registered to dairy cows during 2014.

Aberdeen Angus, Limousin and Hereford continued to be the most popular beef sires used on dairy cows in the North.

Dairy sired male calves also provide the North’s beef industry with animals to finish as beef.

The number of dairy sired male calf registrations in Northern Ireland during 2015 was similar to the previous year with a total of 89,447 head registered, the LMC stated.