Beef cattle supplies approaching a three-year high

The number of cattle slaughtered in approved beef export plants is approaching a three-year high, official figures show.

Figures from the Department of Agriculture, for the week ending December 4, show that just over 1.52m head of cattle have been slaughtered in Ireland so far this year.

This is just 37,879 head and 120,547 head lower than the cumulative beef kill witnessed during 2015 and 2014.

Cumulative beef kill:
  • 2016 (W/E December 4) – 1,523,225 head
  • 2015 (total kill) – 1,561,104 head
  • 2014 (total kill) – 1,643,772 head

And with two full weeks of killing still to be accounted for before the trade winds down for the Christmas period, there is a distinct possibility that cattle supplies will surpass 2015 levels and come close to matching the highs seen in 2014.

Cattle supplies running ahead of 2015 levels

Figures from the Department of Agriculture also show that an additional 76,146 cattle have been slaughtered this year compared to the corresponding period in 2015.

Much of this can be attributed to an increase in calf registrations which was seen in 2014.

Young bulls make up the majority of this increase, with supplies up by 39,371 head or 28.6% on 2015 levels, while there has also been increases cow and heifer throughput.

Cow slaughterings have been 10.9% (+32,734 head) higher this year than in 2015, while heifer throughput has risen by 3% or 11,382 head.

However, aged bull and steer slaughterings have declined by 12.9% and 0.5% respectively.

Year-on-year beef kill changes:
  • Young bull: +39,371 head (+28.6%)
  • Bull: -4,095 head (-12.9%)
  • Steer: -3,067 head (-0.5%)
  • Cow: +32,734 head (+10.9%)
  • Heifer: +11,382 head (+3%)
  • Total: +76,146 head (+5.3%)

Weekly cattle supplies hit 35,000 head

Official figures also show that the number of cattle slaughtered in export approved beef plants broke the 35,000 head mark during the week ending December 4.

This was an increase of 509 head or 1.5% on the week before.

Young bulls accounted for the majority of this increase, with the weekly kill up by 25% or 876 head on the week before, while cow throughput jumped by 6% or 479 head.

However, despite the overall increase, the weekly steer, heifer and aged bull kill all declined, falling by 5.4% (716 head), 1.2% (122 head) and 1.2% (6 head) respectively.

Week-on-week beef kill changes:
  • Young bulls: +876 head (+25%)
  • Bulls: -6 head (-1.2%)
  • Steers: -716 head (-5.4%)
  • Cows: +479 head (+6%)
  • Heifers: -122 head (-1.2%)
  • Total: +509 head (+1.5%)