Beef cattle supplies remain tight for the third consecutive week

Beef cattle supplies have remained tight for the third consecutive week, the latest figures from the Department of Agriculture show.

During the week ending March 28, the weekly beef kill stood at 28,792 head, down 3% on the week previous.

This means that the number of cattle slaughtered in Ireland has remained below 30,000 head of the last three weeks.

Figures from the Department’s beef kill data shows that prime cattle throughput has remained low, with the combined weekly throughput of steers, heifers and young bulls standing at 22,818 head.

This is 605 head or 2.5% lower than the week ending March 21.

On an individual basis, there was only a slight change in the number of heifers slaughtered last week (-1%), but the steer and young bull throughput dropped by 3.4% and 3.8% respectively.

Department figures also show that there has been some reduction in the week-on-week cull cow kill, which fell by 6.8% or 373 head last week, compared to the week ending March 21.

But, there was a slight increase in the number of aged bulls slaughtered last week, which increased by 5.7% or 36 head.

Earlier this year, Bord Bia predicted that cattle supplies would tighten during April and May of this year.

But, it also predicted that an additional 50,000-80,000 beef cattle would come on stream in the second half of this year, mainly due to an increase in dairy births.

Week-on-week beef kill changes:
  • Young bulls: -136 head (-3.8%)
  • Bulls: +36 head (+5.7%)
  • Steers: -395 head (-3.4%)
  • Cows: -373 head (-6.8%)
  • Heifer: -74 head (-1%)
  • Total: -993 head (-3%)

Cumulative beef supplies

However, despite the fall in cattle throughput over the past three weeks, the cumulative number of cattle slaughtered so far this year is running ahead of 2015 levels.

Figures from the Department of Agriculture show that so far this year there has been an additional 14,324 cattle (+3.6%) slaughtered in Ireland compared to the same time last year.

Young bulls accounted for the biggest increase in throughput, up by 15,760 head or 31% on last year’s levels.

The number of steers slaughtered this year has increased by 2% or 3,395 head on 2015 levels, but the heifer (-1%), aged bull (-17%) and cow (-6%) kill have all dropped.