It seems January is getting off to a slow start with regards to beef cattle throughput at Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) approved slaughter plants.

Figures from DAFM indicate that the cattle throughput for the week commencing Monday, January 10, 2022 (the first full-week kill of the year) stood at 32,435 head of cattle (including veal).

While throughput levels are slightly ahead of the corresponding week in 2021 (the figure then was 31,990 cattle), they are behind the 34,559 head of cattle that were processed in the corresponding week of 2020.

Looking at last year, the weekly kill didn’t manage to cross 35,000 head of cattle until the second week of September (35,932 cattle) whereas in 2020, factory cattle throughput had crossed 35,000 head by the fourth week of January (35,641 cattle), with 2020 being a significantly harsher year for beef price than 2021.

Composition of last week’s beef kill:

  • Young bulls: 3,955 head;
  • Bulls: 312 head;
  • Steers: 11,173 head;
  • Cows: 6,321 head;
  • Heifers: 10,620 head;
  • Total (including veal): 32,435 head.

While last week’s kill is by no means a small number of cattle, the figure would indicate that there is no deluge of finished cattle becoming available, and numbers are not expected to rise significantly in the coming weeks.

Changes being made to the off-season bonus for Angus and Hereford cattle further indicate that processors are conscious of the current supply of beef and that demand is currently significantly outstripping supply.

The increased off-season bonus – which has been confirmed for Angus cattle – will be available on Angus animals slaughtered between March 14 and May 16, 2022, however these animals must be pre-booked before February 28, 2022.

While no rise in beef price was was indicated in factory quotes this week, the current supply/demand dynamic would certainly give the farmer further negotiating power as regards to price paid per kg of beef supplied.