Department now publishing feedlot kill on monthly basis

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has now started publishing the number of cattle killed at EU approved slaughter plants originating from ‘Controlled Finishing Units’.

The figures from these units – also known as department defined ‘restricted feedlots’ (see definition below) – show that in January and February of this year, some 28,000 and 26,000 animals were slaughtered, respectively.

This combined 54,000 amounts to 17% of the total number of all cattle slaughtered at approved plants during the first two months of 2019.

The extent of ‘feedlot cattle’ contribution to last year’s total annual kill was highlighted by this publication last December.

An analysis of Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine statistics revealed that an estimated 315,722 cattle – originating from department-defined restricted feedlots – were slaughtered at department-approved beef exporting plants up to and including the week ending December 16, 2018.

This figure represents approximately 18% of the total national beef kill up to and including that date.

Also Read: Feedlot operations increase sixfold in 10 years across Ireland

Department-defined (restricted) feedlots (i.e. those that meet the aforementioned criteria) could include factory-owned, factory-contracted (but privately-owned) or independent farmer-owned feedlot operations.

Although grass can be included in the diet, the department also clearly outlines that if intending to graze, the land must be secured so there can be no contact with other cattle on neighbouring farms.

According to the department, under the TB programme, a feedlot herd comprises a ‘non-breeding’ unit which disposes of all cattle direct for slaughter and fulfills at least one of the following three criteria: cattle are permanently housed (never on pasture); there are no adjoining holdings/lands with cattle; and boundaries are walled, double fenced or equivalent to prevent any direct contact with cattle on neighbouring lands/premises/holdings.

Factory owned/controlled operations

Earlier this year, Cormac Healy senior director of Meat Industry Ireland (MII) stated that approximately 5% of the total annual beef kill originates specifically from factory-owned or factory-controlled feedlots.

While it has been confirmed that approximately 5% of the annual kill is coming from factory-owned or factory-controlled feedlots – around 90,000 head – it is still unclear as to what percentage is derived from factory-contracted feedlots.

The department has made the figures available online through its website.