The national beef kill is showing some signs of slowing, with the number of young bulls and steers slaughtered dropping in recent weeks.

Figures from the Department of Agriculture’s beef kill data shows that the week-on-week young bull and steer kill has dropped by 7% (411 head) and 5% (571 head) respectively, from the week ending February 21 compared to the week earlier.

This drop has resulted in the overall kill falling by 2% over the past two weeks, the Department figures show. But last weeks heifer and cow kill rose by 4% (369) and 2% (101) respectively on the week before.

Bord Bia’s Joe Burke had previously said that cattle were being slaughtered earlier this spring, as they were housed in better condition following a good grass growing season.

But, he predicted that cattle numbers would tighten as the year progressed, until the additional dairy animals came on board in the second half of 2016.

Week-on-week beef kill differences
  • Young bull -7%
  • Steer -5%
  • Cow +2%
  • Heifer +4%
  • Total kill -2%

Department of Agriculture figures also show that the cumulative cattle kill during the first seven weeks of 2016 is well ahead of the same period in 2015.

Approximately 230,000 cattle have been slaughtered at meat export plants to date in 2016. This is up 17,335 head on the same period in 2015.

Lower carcass weights in 2016

Lower carcass weights are widely predicted by some industry commentators in 2016, as more cattle from the dairy herd come on stream.

Bord Bia predicts that there will be about 60,000-80,000 extra cattle coming on line in Ireland in 2016, with the majority of these cattle being beef crosses from the dairy herd.

However, IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said that the numbers of extra cattle have been exaggerated as carcass weights will revert to 2014 levels or 5kg lower than 2015 levels.

He said that the drop in carcass weights will amount to a reduction equivalent of about 20,000 head.

But recent data presented by Bord Bia doses not bode well for this prediction.

Figures from Bord Bia show that prime cattle carcass weights for January have shown a rise with young bulls and steers showing the highest year on year increase by around 5%.