Increase in cattle imports from the North to the Republic in 2016

Cattle imports (excluding calves) to the Republic of Ireland from Northern Ireland for further breeding and production recorded a slight increase during 2016 when compared to 2015 levels, figures from the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) show.

While there was an increase in exports on 2015, they remain well behind the levels exported to Britain.

A total of 2,197 cattle were exported from the North to the Republic for further production last year, compared to 2,057 head during 2015 and 1,476 head during 2014, figures show.

Some 570 of the cattle exported from the North to the Republic for further breeding and production were male store cattle last year, similar to the 538 head exported from the North during 2015.

Total exports of cattle from the North to south of the border for direct slaughter during 2016 totalled 11,495 head, a notable decline from 2015 levels when 14,249 cattle were exported, LMC figures show.

However, total exports to the Republic for direct slaughter during 2016 were at a higher level than those recorded in 2014 when 9,194 cattle were exported.

The LMC has said that much of the decline in total exports from the North to the Republic for direct slaughter between 2015 and 2016 can be attributed to a reduction in the number of cows being exported during the second half of the year in response to currency fluctuations.

During 2016 a total of 32,897 cattle were exported out of Northern Ireland for direct slaughter or for further breeding and production.

This is a notable decline from the 38,448 head exported out of the region during 2015, according to the LMC.

Exports of cattle for direct slaughter totalled 17,528 head during the 2016 period with 34% of these destined for slaughter in Britain and the remaining 66% exported to plants in the Republic.

Exports to Britain

Meanwhile, exports of cattle (excluding calves) from the North to Britain for further breeding and production decreased during 2016 with a total of 10,288 head crossing the Irish Sea compared to 13,230 head during 2015, figures show.

The level of export was also below 2014 levels when a total of 11,374 cattle were exported from the North to Britain for further production.

During 2016 5,447 of the cattle exported from the North to Britain were male store cattle which will predominantly have been for beef production on British farms.

Again this was a notable decrease from 2015 levels when 8,888 male cattle were exported from Northern Ireland for further breeding and production in Britain.

Exports from the North to Britain for direct slaughter in British plants during 2016 also decreased from year earlier levels, according to the LMC.

During 2016 a total of 6,033 cattle made the journey from the North to Britain for direct slaughter compared to 7,379 cattle in 2015 – an 18% decline year-on-year.

The level of export during 2016 was also notably lower than 2014 levels when 9,307 cattle were exported to Britain for direct slaughter, figures show.

This decrease in total cattle exports from the North to Britain for direct slaughter during 2016 can be attributed to a general narrowing in the price differential between Northern Ireland and Britain, the LMC said, particularly for prime cattle.

Commentators at the LMC said that a narrower price differential between the regions makes it less financially attractive for local producers to transport cattle to mainland Britain for slaughter.

In addition the reduction in the number of cattle being imported by local plants from the Republic for direct slaughter during 2016 when compared to previous years will also have reduced cattle availability for export to Britain for direct slaughter due to increased demand for Northern Ireland-origin cattle from local processors, it said.

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