Dairy Fact Sheet

Farming Sectors
Dairy Fact Sheet



Dairy Farming and Milk Production


18,000 Dairy farmers

Average herd size approx. 80 cows

Average production: 370,000 litres

Yield per cow : 5,000 litres (relatively low yield reflects grass-based system)

National dairy herd : 1.4 million cows (+300,000 cows in the last 4 years)

National milk production: 6.65 billion litres (2016)

Production is essentially grass-based, and therefore very seasonal, with peak/trough ratio rising to 10 to 1 (May versus January) in 2017.  This ratio has steepened significantly as a result of the ending of quotas in March 2015.

Source: CSO

Milk Utilisation

Production of the main dairy products in 2016:

Liquid milk 527 m litres
Butter 198,700t
SMP 117,700t
WMP 26,000t (2015)
Whey powder 119,790t (2015)
Casein 46,380t (2015)
Cheese (mostly cheddar) 205,000t

Source: CSO, Eurostat

Ireland’s milk purchasers/processors are mostly co-operatives

The following is a map of the catchment area of Ireland’s dairy co-operatives for 2009, as produced by the Irish Farmers’ Journal.  Since then, the following developments have occurred:  purchase of Newmarket by Kerry, of Donegal by Connacht Gold (now Aurivo), merger of Glanbia with Wexford Creamery, merger of Town of Monaghan and Ballyrashane Co-op in Northern Ireland to form LacPatrick and Lakeland Dairies formed a joint venture with Fane Valley Co-op in Northern Ireland.


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