An increase in beef coming from the dairy herd will raise questions about the number of suckler cows that are needed in NI, Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has said.

“There is going to be considerably more beef coming from the dairy herd as a result of sexed semen, that is the reality,” Minister Poots told the NI Institute of Agricultural Science.

Although acknowledging that suckler bred cattle tend to have higher liveweight gains and better-quality carcases, he said there are less greenhouse gas emissions associated with dairy beef.

“It is much more efficient in terms of methane for a cow to produce a beef calf and 10,000 litres of milk, as opposed to just a beef calf,” the minister said.

“Do we need as many suckler cows as we currently have? Those are questions that the industry needs to have a discussion on,” he added.