The most recent figures from the Department of Agriculture’s Animal Identification and Movement System indicate that the total number of cattle aged between 18-36 months has dropped in 2015.

Figures from the Department of Agriculture also show that to date in 2015, the national beef kill in 2015 is running 75,000 head behind 2014 levels.

To September 1, 2015, there were 715,030 cattle (excluding cows) on the ground aged between 18-36 months, this is 26% lower than the same time in 2014.

These figures indicate that the numbers of male cattle aged between 18-36 months to September 1, 2015, stood at 361,066 – this is a drop of 106,534 or 29.5% for the same time in 2014.

There has also been a drop in heifer numbers in this age bracket (excluding cows) with 353,964 recorded on the Department’s database to September 1, 2015, this is a drop of 150,964 from 2014 levels.

The figures also indicate that the changes in cattle numbers across the age brackets has been quite variable.

There were 263,510 fewer cattle aged between 18-24 months, there was also a drop experienced in the 30-36 month category with 49,000 fewer compared to the same time in 2014.

However, despite these falls, the numbers of cattle between 24-30 months in the system increased by 16% on the same period in 2014.

cattle supplies

Tightening prices could impact on beef price

Beef factories will come under pressure to secure cattle in the upcoming months as total cattle supplies have dropped significantly, according to the IFA’s Henry Burns.

Speaking to Agriland recently, the IFA Livestock Chairman said that this will have an important role to play in the prices farmers receive for their cattle in the coming months.

Looking at numbers from the latest cattle count there are substantially less cattle in the system aged between 24-36 months. So this is going to impact on the tightness of supplies, he said.

Burns added that factories are currently in the process of preparing beef for the peak Christmas demand, and this will force factories to source more cattle for this production period.

“From a farmer’s perspective we need to be able to play those cards. It is clear that factories can pay more for cattle over the next couple of months as they will need the cattle.”

Burns said factories are well able to pay more than €4/kg for beef, which is necessary if there is going to be a future for beef farmers in Ireland.

It is clear that the factories can pay more for cattle over the next couple of months, these prices need to move up if there is going to be a future in the beef industry.”

The IFA Livestock Committee Chairman added that at the current pricing levels of 390-395c/kg, beef production is unsustainable and will become more so with the introduction of concentrates during the winter finishing period.

“We all know that anything below the €4/kg is not profitable especially with the introduction of concentrate feeds, added Burns.