The number of beef cattle processed in factories approved by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) last week has witnessed a marginal drop in numbers.

According to figures released by DAFM yesterday, Tuesday, October 5, a total of 35,751 head of cattle (including veal) were presented for slaughter in department-approved factories the week of Monday, September 27.

The number of cattle processed last week falls a slight 216 head of cattle behind the previous week, which saw the highest weekly beef kill so far this year.

The figures will come as a surprise to many following concern among farmers that the kill would witness a sharp rise last week as the weather took a turn to cool, damper conditions.

The concern among farmers was that a sharp rise in cattle supply could potentially have resulted in a drop in factory quotes; however, in this unprecedented year for the cattle trade, the opposite appears to be the case.

While factory quotes for this week were unchanged from most processors for heifers and steers, conversations with farmers around the country would indicate that many beef finishers are managing to secure a base price that is 5c-10c/kg above what processors are quoting for heifers and, in some cases, steers.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending September 25):

  • Young bulls: 1,524 head (-100 head);
  • Bulls: 493 head (-98 head);
  • Steers: 17,872 head (+658 head);
  • Cows: 6,082 head (-152);
  • Heifers: 9,735 head (-515 head);
  • Total: 35,751 head (-216 head).

An analysis of last week’s kill figures indicates that while the heifer kill dropped by a noticeable 515 head, the steer kill increased by 658 head making last week the highest weekly kill of steer cattle so far this year.

While the steer kill increased last week, throughput in all other categories witnessed a drop in numbers when compared to the previous week.

With mixed conditions forecast across the country for the remainder of the week and ground conditions beginning to deteriorate, it remains to be seen if a spike in the cattle kill will be witnessed this year. However, with this year’s beef kill running almost 71,000 head of cattle behind last year’s kill and expected to fall further behind, if a deluge of cattle is not seen before housing, it will likely not be seen for the remainder of the year.