Despite reduced milk prices throughout 2023, calf registrations in the fourth quarter increased 1.1% or 3800 head on the same period in 2022.

The total number of registrations to dairy dams in the final three months of 2023 in GB was 359,000 head, with total registrations for the year reaching 1.51m which is on a par with the previous year.

Figures from BCMS also show stability in the GB milking herd, with a slight increase in the number of younger cows driving down the average age of a dairy cow.

The Scottish Farmer: Dairy farmers are moving more to block calving systemsDairy farmers are moving more to block calving systems

The data also shows the swing towards block calving systems. Comparing to the five-year average, registrations in Q3 of 2023 were up almost 12,000 (2.8%) head, whilst Q2 was down 4600 (1.5%). This shows the change in systems with more calves born to dairy dams in the autumn and less in the summer, compared to historic norms.

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Meanwhile, calf registrations in Northern Ireland have experienced a 6.9% decrease on the year in the opening month of 2024.

Data from the Northern Ireland Food Animal Information System (NIFAS) confirms that a total of 40,587 calves were registered in January 2024.

Commenting LMC agricultural market analyst, Claire McAnearney said: “Calf registrations are down across the board for all breed categories, but what we have seen is that Aberdeen Angus is likely to remain a clear top choice of sire selection going into 2024.”

Ms McAnearney referred to registration statistics that point to a marginal decline of 2.2% year-on-year for Aberdeen Angus-sired calves registered for the month of January in NI.

“The second most popular calf breed in the opening month of this year was Limousin, followed closely by Charolais. Early indications show that we are unlikely to see any major shake up to these leaders for sire choice in the early part of 2024.”

Like the beef sector, the dairy sector also recorded a decline in calf registrations during the the first month of the year. January totalled 25,733 head of beef-sired calves, a drop of 7% from January 2023, and 14,584 head of dairy-sired calves, back 6.7% from January 2023.

“The opening month for 2021, 2022 and 2023 recorded year-on-year increases in the number of calf birth registrations, making 2024 the first change in some time.”