Irish breeding numbers took a huge fall in 2023 and arguably present a bigger threat to the long term future of greyhound racing than welfare, track closures or the ongoing media rights skirmishes writes Floyd Amphlett.

A mere 1,691 litters were registered in Ireland last year, a fall of around a fifth (20.5%) on 2022. This is 271 fewer even than the Covid lockdown year of 2020.

The graph shows the true extent of the decline, a 65% fall in the number of greyhounds being born in just 20 years. This is set to the background of welfarists claiming ‘massive over breeding of greyhounds’

They may also point out that many late 2023 litters are yet to be registered. This is correct, however, our figures have always been calculated from the December 31 cut-off. The 2022 totals would therefore include pups whelped in late 2021. The trend cannot be denied.

With litter sizes invariably working out at about 6.4 pups per litter, that would provide an estimate of around 10,800 greyhound pups born.

Remember, this is the ‘litters registered’ figure. Not only does it include pups bred for hare coursing – and never destined to race – these are full litters of very young hounds, typically registered at around three months.

They would therefore include pups who will succumb to injury or illness during the following year before reaching adulthood.

It is also valid that British bred litters are not included.  Those figures are still to be rounded up, but they look likely to fall below the 2022 total which totalled a mere 168 litters.

Typically – there would be around 45K Labrador Retrievers registered each year in Britain – and that is only those ‘with paperwork’. Small wonder that a recent mainstream newspaper article included the racing greyhound as an endangered breed.

We have been asked to announce that the funderal of the late Mick Wheble will take place at 11am on Monday 15th January at St Stithians Church in Kennington, Oxford.