Cattle numbers tighten as weekly kill falls below 28,000 head

Beef cattle supplies continue to remain tight, with just 27,677 slaughtered last week, the Department of Agriculture’s beef kill data has shown.

During the week ending May 8, the throughput of cattle dropped by 3.7% on the week before, as cattle numbers begin to tighten on the ground.

This means that the number of cattle slaughtered has remained below 30,000 for the past three weeks.

Figures from the Department show that last week’s young bull kill declined by 6.9% or 236 head, while heifer throughput also fell by 5%. There was also a fall in aged bull slaughterings, which dropped by 12%.

But, official figures show that both the steer and cow throughput increased last week, by 0.5% and 2.9% respectively.

The fall in cattle numbers had previously been predicted by Bord Bia and, it expects cattle numbers to remain tight in May and June before increasing by 60,000-80,000 in the second half of the year.

However, the ease in cattle supplies has had no real effect on cattle price just yet, but some processors have moved to reduce the age and weight limits to secure stock.

Some factory agents suggest finishers holding out for better prices may be disappointed, as the weaker Sterling is having a major impact on the trade.

Week-on-week beef kill changes:
  • Young bull: -236 head (-6.9%)
  • Bull: -86 head (-12%)
  • Steer: +51 head (+0.5%)
  • Cow: +191 head (+2.9%)
  • Heifer: -433 head (-5%)
  • Total: -1,074 head (3.7%)

Cumulative beef kill

According to the Department of Agriculture, there have been an extra 13,281 cattle slaughtered so far this year compared to the same time in 2015.

Figures from the Department of Agriculture show that there have almost been 20,000 extra young bulls slaughtered this year, while the cumulative heifer kill is up slightly, increasing by 515 head.

However, the cumulative supply of bulls (-21%), steers (-1.8%) and cows (-0.7%) have all declined on 2015 levels.