British beef farmers have been warned of the potential impact higher Irish beef production could have on the UK market next year.

UK beef industry organisation the AHDB has said that increased Irish production have the potential to have an impact on the situation in the UK since the UK market accounts for around half of Irish beef exports.

It said much of the increased production could well be available to the UK market at competitive prices given the demand for Irish beef is likely to remain robust in some segments of the retail environment.

According to the ADHB Irish beef production in the year to date is down on the higher volumes of last year, reflecting the high levels of calf and weanling exports in the 2012 to 2014 period.

It cites the very high levels of slaughter and thus production in 2014 reflected the growth in the cow herd, particularly dairy cows, which began in 2010.

In the year to September, the AHDB says cattle slaughter is back almost 5%, or 60,000 head on last year with production down over 3% at 420,000t.

“With the forecast for production in the year as a whole to be back around 8% it is clear that a tightening in supplies is expected on the run into the end of the year,” it said.


However, looking further ahead, the ADHB says there has been a steep decline in the volume of cattle exported out of the Republic of Ireland this year so far on the back of relatively firm calf, weanling, store and finished cattle prices.

Overall in the year to the end of October, it says the number of live exports are back over 50,000 head on the year.

The most volatile component of Irish live cattle exports are calf exports. In the last 10 years the volume of calves exported has varied from almost 160,000 head in 2010 to less than 40 thousand head in 2012.

According to the ADHB, with most calf exports occurring during the spring calving season, calf exports for the year are largely complete for this year and at 85,000 head are back 16,000 head or 16% on the year.

In addition, it says store cattle numbers are back over a half on the year.

Calf registrations

The ADHB says these lower levels of live exports come at the same time as an increase in calf registrations as a result of the growth in aggregate cow numbers.

It says the combination of these factors will ultimately be reflected in increases in the volume of cattle available for slaughter in 2016 and 2017 and a recovery in Irish beef production.

Beef sired calf registration are up 90,000 head in the year to September whilst dairy sired numbers are 16,000 head up, it says.