EU milk quota deregulation has forced many farmers to reconsider the factors that will limit milk production into the future. Factors other than milk quota such as land, labour, capital, stock, etc. will become the limiting factor for many in a post-EU milk quota scenario. While it can be postulated what the limits to production will be in a post-quota scenario, how farmers react will determine the future direction of the industry. In order to determine the future attitudes and intentions and to identify the key factors influencing farmers who intend to expand, exit, remain static or contract their businesses in the future, a survey of a large group of Irish commercial dairy farmers was carried out. The telephone survey sample was chosen randomly, based on a proportional representation of suppliers to the largest milk processor in Ireland. The sample (780 suppliers) was broken down by quota size (five quota categories, Q1–Q5), supplier region and system of production. The sample was analysed to determine the effect of key survey variables on the future intentions of dairy farmers. The survey was completed by 659 suppliers (0·82 of the sample). The proportions of farmers intending to expand were 0·28, 0·47, 0·61, 0·61 and 0·56, respectively, for Q1–Q5, while the proportions intending to exit were 0·27, 0·18, 0·08, 0·09 and 0·08, respectively. Farmers who were intent on expanding had larger total farm areas, larger milk tank capacity per litre of milk quota, more modern milking facilities, more available cow housing and more housing that could be converted at a relatively low cost and were more likely to have a successor. Of those expanding, 0·60 wanted milk quotas abolished, while 0·36 of those planning to exit wanted milk quotas abolished. The level of expansion was affected by business scale, dairy stocking rate, the additional labour required with expansion and total and milking platform farm size.