Beef cattle supplies remain tight with little change in prime throughput

Beef cattle supplies continue to remain tight with just 28,630 slaughtered at Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants last week.

Figures from the Department of Agriculture show that the weekly beef kill has been below 30,000 head for the past five weeks.

Tighter cattle supplies mean that procurement managers are having to work harder to secure adequate stock numbers.

And as a result, the majority of beef plants increased base quotes for both steers and heifers earlier this week.

Most plants increased the base prices of steers and heifers by 5-10c/kg in order to secure stock. Heifers are now making 405-410c/kg, while steers are making 400-405c/kg.

Little movement in prime cattle throughtput

Official figures from the Department’s beef kill database also show that prime cattle throughput continues to remain tight.

During the week ending May 22, just 21,396 prime cattle (young bulls, steers and heifers) were slaughtered in Ireland, down from 23 head from the week before.

Young bull throughput is showing some signs of easing with almost 270 fewer slaughtered last week compared to the week before.

However, there was a slight rise in steer and heifer throughput increasing by 1.6% (158 head) and 1.2% (94 head) respectively.

Looking at the cull kill, throughput of aged bulls has increased by 7%, while the number of cows slaughtered during the week ending May 22 was 6% higher than the week before.

Week-on-week beef kill changes:
  • Young bulls: -269 head (-7%)
  • Bulls: +41 head (+7%)
  • Steer: +158 head (+1.6%)
  • Cow: +366 head (+6%)
  • Heifer: +94 head (+1.2%)
  • Total: +304 head (0%)

Beef cattle supply outlook

According to Bord Bia, beef cattle supplies are likely to remain tight over the next couple of months as a slow spring and low grass growth rates seen turn out delayed on farms by five-to-six weeks.

It reports that the delay in turnout is likely to have an impact on the grass cattle slaughterings, which are said to be a couple of weeks behind the same time in 2015.

However, cattle supplies are expected to increase in the second half of the year, it reports, with an additional 60,000-80,000 cattle expected to come forward for slaughter before the year ends.

Cumulative beef kill

Despite the tighter beef kill over the past five weeks, the cumulative supply of cattle slaughtered so far this year is running 12,005 ahead of the same time in 2015.

The majority of this increase comes from a jump in young bull throughput, as an extra 21,340 (+31%) young bulls have been slaughtered this year compared to last year.

But the cull cow and heifer kill remains relatively unchanged from last year, while there were 21% fewer aged bulls and 2.7% fewer steer slaughterings so far in 2016.