Cattle numbers are virtually unchanged at 5.92 million, despite dairy cow numbers rising almost 3%, in the December survey by the Central Statistics Office.
Sheep numbers increased by more than 6%, with more ewes kept for breeding, and extra lambs for finishing in early 2012. Ewes under two years of age increased by more than 13%.
‘Other’ cattle aged over two years were 101,000 head lower. Numbers aged one to two years were 79,000 lower, indicating ongoing tight supply for much of 2012.
But reduced live exports and a 5% rise in calf registrations to 2.09 million in 2011 will boost finished cattle availability from 2013.
Cattle supplies are tight in Great Britain also, with beef males aged 24-30 months down by 23% year-on-year.
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