Dairy cows are to be culled in Ireland for the first time after a national milk cow feed shortage was blamed on climate change.
In a landmark move the Agriculture Ministry has agreed to take in the cows to ensure they are fed enough to last through the winter, a government official said.
The cull will take place between February 20 and March 5 and will take around 5,000 cows.
The move follows the government’s announcement in June that dairy farmers in the county of Cork would be allowed to cull their own cows if the weather was good.
The decision to cull the dairy herd in Cork is an indication that farmers are prepared to go to extreme lengths to feed their cattle, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The farmers will be allowed 1,000 shelled calves for the cull, he said.
Cork farmers had complained about low milk prices, and in recent years, their herds have been suffering from disease.
They had also been unable to feed the cows properly, and the number of cows needed for the farm’s operation was reduced from 100 to 60.
Last month, farmers in Co Cork complained to the Department of Agriculture that their cows were being left to graze in a field in their own fields, with the cows grazing at a rate of about four per cent a day.