There appears to be little let up in the number of cattle being slaughtered in Ireland as the weekly beef kill has just passed 35,000 head for the third week in a row.

According to the Department of Agriculture’s beef kill database, some 35,382 head of cattle were slaughtered during the week ending December 18 – an increase of 0.4% or 135 head on the week before.

Worryingly, this brings the total number of cattle supplied over the last three weeks to over 106,000 head, some 16,082 head more than factories generally require in any three-week period.

Procurement managers also made it clear that cattle supplies are likely to remain strong this week, with many reporting full or near full lairages to slaughter in advance of the Christmas break.

Week-on-week beef kill changes:
  • Young bulls: +1,040 head (+22%)
  • Bulls: +88 head (+15.9%)
  • Steers: -1,003 head (-8.2%)
  • Cows: -637 head (-4.5%)
  • Heifers: +373 head (+3.9%)
  • Total: +135 head (+0.4%)

Last week’s increase was mainly due to an increase in young bull and heifer throughput, while the weekly steer and cow kill actually declined on the week before.

Beef supplies edging toward a three-year high

According to the latest statics from the Department, the number of cattle slaughtered in Ireland so far this year is sitting at 1.59m – just 49,918 head lower than the three year high seen in 2014.

And given that there is an additional full-weeks kill and a part week (interim period between Christmas and the New Year) to be accounted for, there is a slight possibility that 2016 cattle supplies will reach a new three-year high.

Looking at the total number of cattle supplied so far in 2016, figures from the Department show that an additional 80,230 head of cattle have been slaughtered on 2015 levels.

Young bull and cull cow throughput make up the majority of this increase, with supplies up by 39,349 head (+26.5%) and 36,531 head (+11.7%) respectively.

But the number of steer and aged bulls slaughterings are actually down on 2015 levels, with supplies back by 4,612 head (-0.7%) and 3,888 head (-11.9%) respectively.

Year-on-year beef kill changes:
  • Young bull: +39,349 head (+26.5%)
  • Bull: -3,888 head (-11.9%)
  • Steers: -4,612 head (-0.7%)
  • Cows: +36,531 head (+11.7%)
  • Heifers: +13,036 head (+3.3%)
  • Total: +80,230 head (+5.3%)