Low farm-gate milk price is likely to result in an increase in the number of dairy cows slaughtered in Europe this year, according to the AHDB (the English body for beef and lamb).

Dairy cows account for 66% of the European cow herd and due to the pressure on dairy prices, the short term outlook for dairy remains unfavourable.

According to the AHDB, the dairy cow kill has already started to rise in a number of EU Member States. And, as a result, a fall in the EU’s dairy herd now seems likely this year.

It reports that most Member States are expected to show reductions in their dairy herds, with the exception of Ireland, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Two of the largest dairy producers in Europe – Germany and France – have already seen dairy cow numbers drop by up to 1%, while Italy has seen a similar decline.

Cow numbers are also expected to fall in Poland.

The Eastern European state is the third largest dairy producer in the EU and the AHDB says that cow numbers are expected to decrease by 5% due to feed shortages and a low milk price.

However, closer to home, AHDB reports that Irish dairy cow numbers are likely to remain unchanged, as the national herd increased by 10% last year.

As similar trend can also be seen in the Netherlands and Norway, where the national herds increased by 7% and 4% respectively last year.

The expected fall in dairy cow numbers will boost the supply of cow beef in the short term, but it may result in lower beef production going forward, it says.

However, this could be partially offset by the increase in the suckler beef calf crop and production from the beef herd.

Beef cow numbers are also expanding at present. In December 2015, the EU beef cow herd was up over 2% on the year earlier, figures from the AHDB show.

European cattle herd at highest level since 2009

The European cattle herd is at its highest level since 2009, recent figures from the AHDB show, following a four year increase in cattle numbers.

According to the AHDB, the EU cattle herd increased slightly in December, up 2% compared to the same time in 2011, when the herd was at its lowest point.

EU cow numbers have also jumped by 2% in December 2015 compared to the year earlier, which is leading to an increase in the European calf crop this year, the AHDB reports.

The number of cattle on the ground under one-year-of-age in December 2015 was also 2% higher than the same period 12 months earlier.