Dairy farming in Ireland needs 6,000 new entrants

6,000 New Dairy Farmers required for Ageing Irish Dairy Industry between now and 2026

Dairy Farming in Ireland – Researchers and Consultants at Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority) have estimated required personnel figures for Ireland’s Dairy Farming Industry.

The People in Dairy Project Report, from Teagasc

– The report states that at least 6,000 new farmers will be required to to retain dairy farming in Ireland and recoup farmers who are leaving the dairy industry between now and 2026.

– According to the report 4,000 of the required dairy farmers in Ireland will be new farmers and an opening for a further 2,000 will be created within this time frame.

– The report was created due to a large shrinkage in the amount of farmers working in the dairy sector of Ireland due to retirement and leaving the industry.


Dairy Farming in Ireland, in figures:

Dairy farmer’s average age is 58 years of age


  • Average herd size was 76 cows
  • Herds with 100+ cows represent 47% of farms


  • Average herd size was 54 cows
  • Herds with 100+ cows represented 13% of farms


Food Harvest 2020, Department of Agriculture, Ireland

This is a growth plan released by the Irish Department of Agriculture back in 2014. All targets are set for 2020:

  • Increase milk production by 50%
  • Raise export values by 42%
  • Improve added value sector by €3 billion+


Professor Gerry Boyle, Teagasc Director

– Professor Boyle stated that dairy farming in Ireland can be a financially rewarding industry to be in presenting a strong work/life balance. He also said that it is an enjoyable career.

“This can be achieved by having labour-efficient set-ups that make the day to day workload easier.”

“There are opportunities for people to follow an attractive career in dairy farming in Ireland and the opportunity for family farms to expand to improve their viability in the future.”


Other changes to dairy farming in Ireland

– The elimination of milk quotas has also helped greatly with Ireland’s milk production. They can now produce unlimited amounts of milk and the government has a 5 year plan to increase the production

– This 5 year plan, which started in 2016, looks to increase production by 2.75 billion litres over the 5 years. This will mean around 300,000 cows will need to be added to dairy herds.

– Ireland is the 3rd highest consumer of milk per capita in the world. Each person consumes roughly 130 litres per person.

– There are 18,500 dairy farms over the whole of Ireland with in excess of 5.5 billion litres of milk being produced per annum.

– The majority of milk produced from Dairy Farming in Ireland ends up at national and international wholesalers rather than with individual consumers