Cattle supplies start slow but numbers are growing

Cattle slaughterings appear to have started off to somewhat of a slow start as just 28,006 head were killed during the first week of 2017.

This is a fall of almost 7,000 head on the 35,000/week kills seen back in the latter stages of 2016.

However, procurement managers, particularly those in the south of the country are expecting finished cattle numbers to increase in the coming weeks.

Figures from the Department of Agriculture’s beef kill database show that steers (9,409 head) and heifers (8,582 head) made up the majority of cattle slaughterings during the week ending January 8.

Breakdown of the weekly kill:
  • Young bulls: 4,716 head
  • Bulls: 261 head
  • Steers: 9,409 head
  • Cows: 5,022 head
  • Heifers: 8,582 head
  • Total: 28,006 head

Meanwhile, it also shows 10.7% or 3,373 fewer cattle were slaughtered in approved export plants in the first week of 2017 compared to the corresponding time in 2016.

This fall is mainly due to a reduction in young bull, steer and heifer slaughterings, which declined by 21.6%, 10.6% and 8.9% respectively.

Year-on-year beef kill changes:
  • Young bull: -1,298 head or -21.6%
  • Bull: -102 head or -28%
  • Steer: -1,115 head or -10.6%
  • Cow: +44 head or +0.9%
  • Heifer: -841 head or -8.9%
  • Total: -3,373 head -10.7%

Beef trade round up

A somewhat stronger cattle trade has seen the beef price offered to farmers, for both steers and heifers, rise by 5-10c/kg on last week’s levels.

Most procurement managers are beginning negotiations with farmers at 375c/kg for steers and 385c/kg for heifers – a rise of about 5c/kg on last week.

In addition, some factories are willing to pay an extra 5c/kg on top of the base price to secure numbers, bringing the respective steer and heifer price (excluding Bord Bia QA payments) to 380c/kg and 390c/kg.

There has also been a slight improvement in R grade cow prices with most factories quoting 320-330c/kg for these animals, while the P and O grade price is sitting at 280-290c/kg and 290-300c/kg respectively.