The number of cattle processed at Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) approved beef factories has increased by over 25,000 head (excluding veal) when compared to figures from the same time period last year.

According to DAFM data, the number of young bulls, bulls, steers, cows and heifers processed this year up to the week ending Sunday, March 6, stood at just over 305,000 head of cattle.

Figures from the same time period last year show that a total of just over 278,000 head of cattle was processed, leaving this year’s throughput to date up by over 27,000 cattle.

While the total number of cattle processed this year is up on last year’s numbers, last week’s beef kill drew level with throughput from the previous week at just under 35,000 head (excluding veal).

Throughput had fallen in the two weeks prior to this.

Beef kill changes this year vs. last year (up to and including week commencing February 28, 2022):

  • Young bulls: 32,583 head (+2,366 cattle);
  • Bulls: 4,229 head (+947 cattle);
  • Steers: 107,436 head (+8,738 cattle);
  • Cows: 66,469 head (+9,704 cattle);
  • Heifers: 95,012 head (+5,411);
  • Total (excluding veal): 305,729 head (+27,166).

As the figures above indicate, the cow category has seen the largest increase in numbers to date this year, compared to last year. High cull cow prices are likely a contributing factor to this as farmers opt to cull harder on their lower-performing cows.

The number of steers and young bulls has also increased significantly and low calf exports in 2020 are likely a factor leading to increased numbers in these categories.

The rising cattle throughput is in line with Bord Bia’s forecast that the number of cattle processed in Irish factories is projected to increase by 70,000 head this year.

With positive momentum currently pushing beef price upwards, farmers can be relatively confident of upward pressure remaining on beef price for the duration of the second quarter of the year.