Official figures show that some 39,551 cattle were processed in Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants last week.

This is just 793 head behind the same week in 2018, when some 40,344 head were slaughtered. The addition of last week’s throughput brings the cumulative kill for the year – up to and including last week – to over 1.57 million head.

This is a rise of 457 head on the previous week, when 39,094 head were slaughtered.

Looking at the figures in more detail, last week’s steer and heifer supplies stood at 15,503 head and 11,472 head respectively; when combined, this represents 67.7% of the total weekly kill last week.

Cow slaughterings accounted for the third-largest segment of the kill at 8,059 head – up from 7,580 head the week previous – while young bull and aged bull throughput stood at 4,049 head and 600 head respectively.

Factories have increased their appetite for young bulls and this is evident with an extra 555 of these animals slaughtered last week.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending November 24):
  • Young bulls: 4,049 head (+555 head or +15.8%);
  • Bulls: 593 head (-7 head or -1.1%);
  • Steers: 15,503 head (-341 head or -2.1%);
  • Cows: 8,059 head (+479 head or +6.3%);
  • Heifers: 11,295 head (-177 head or -1.5%);
  • Total: 39,551 head (+457 head or +1.1%).

As mentioned above, over 1.49 million cattle have been slaughtered in Ireland this year – a fall of 58,749 head or 3.8% when compared to the corresponding period in 2018.

Throughput increases have been witnessed in the young bull, aged bull and heifer categories. However, steer throughput has declined by 47,456 head or 8%, the cow kill is running 45,094 head behind 2018 levels.

Year-on-year beef kill changes:
  • Young bulls: 188,678 head (+7,282 head or +4%);
  • Bulls: 32,204 head (+3,568 head or +12.4%);
  • Steers: 568,866 head (-46,169 head or -7.5%);
  • Cows: 314,838 head (-47,229 head or -13%);
  • Heifers: 456,142 head (+18,013 head or +4%);
  • Total: 1,574,428 head (-60,573 head or -3.7%).


There has been a lot of talk in recent days of beef prices rising; reports indicate while this may be true for that ‘in-spec’, under 30-month steer or heifer – suitable for the Chinese market in one or two factories – prices for all other stock remain static.

Also Read: Beef trade: ‘As you were’ for base quotes

It must be noted that a 5-10c/kg addition is few and far between at the moment and is not reflected across the board, with unchanged quotes of 345-350/kg for steers and 350-355c/kg for heifers.