Beef Kill: Numbers processed close to 6,000 head behind same week in 2020

With farmers wondering how supplies in factories are holding up, the number of cattle processed for the week ending February 7 amounted to 30,226 head (excluding veal).

Comparing these figures to the equvilant week in 2020, factories are seeing a reduction of 5,955 head in the total animals killed – as 36,181 head had been processed. 

Farmers may be asking the big question as to why the reduction in price if supplies are falling behind so significantly?

In terms of differences, this year we are seeing factories placing limitations on processing and are choosing to operate three-day kills.

We are also dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic in full action resulting in the food service industry reducing their demands due to lockdowns which had not been the case this time last year.

However, as one door closes another one opens and this was certainly the case in recent months as retail sales of meat products increased and alleviated the impact of these foodservice industry closures to a certain degree.

UK market

There has been suggestions made that the UK market is now diving into the large consignments sent in the event of a no trade deal Brexit during December. If this is the case it is one reason behind a reduced demand for processing at the moment.

This week, we have seen Brendan Golden of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) National Livestock Committee chairman state:

The talking down of the trade by the meat factories is not justified based on the latest market reports.

“The prime export benchmark price for the latest week has increased by 5c/kg, with the Irish price not keeping pace, only increasing by 2c/kg over the same period.

“The supermarket price for beef in the UK has strengthened in the past week and sales remain strong.”

Reduced heifer kills

Looking at the figures in more detail, the largest declines were seen in the numbers of heifers processed. There has been a reduction of 2,325 head when comparing the recent figures to the equivalent week in 2020 – as 9,261 head were processed last week.

There was 1,629 head less young bulls slaughtered during the week ending February 7, in comparison to the same week in 2020, with a total of 3,477 head being slaughtered.

Furthermore, young bull kills have only reached 17,771 head so far in 2021, while there had been an additional 6,815 head of kills in 2020 by this stage.

Examining some week-on-week figures, the number of steers sent through plants last week reached 11,172 head – which was a rise of 624 head from the previous week.

Meanwhile, there were declines of 483 head in the weekly kills of cows, as 6,028 head were slaughtered during the week ending February 7.

Week-on-week beef kill changes:

  • Steers: 11,172 head (+624 head);
  • Heifers: 9,261 head (-875 head);
  • Cows: 6,028 head (-483 head);
  • Young bulls: 3,437 head (-141 head);
  • Bulls: 328 head (-42 head);
  • Total: 30,226 head (-917 head).