High kill despite August bank holiday

Some 31,785 cattle were slaughtered last week in Irish beef exporting plants – an increase of 3,460 head when compared to the previous week and a jump of over 16,700 head when compared to the equivalent week in 2019.

But, there are a number of factors to consider here.

Firstly, the massive jump on a yearly basis is down to the fact that the Beef Plan Movement factory-gate protest in August last year started to take its toll on weekly slaughter figures.

Secondly, the drop of 3,460 head compared to the week previous can be attributed to the August bank holiday Monday last week – although some factories did have a Saturday kill to maintain throughput.

Regardless, 31,785 head is quite a substantial kill for last week.

Slight downward price pressure to the trade for prime cattle has been witnessed in recent days, with all signs pointing to this continuing early next week. As a result, some plants are attempting to purchase bullocks at 365c/kg and heifers at 370c/kg.

Some 6,121 cows were processed last week – a fall of 898 head on the previous week; 104,941 bullocks were slaughtered – down 1,559 head, while heifer numbers fell by 604 head to 8,742 head.

In the case of bulls, young bull slaughterings dropped to 1,386 head, representing a 191-head decrease on the previous week’s kill; the number of aged bulls decreased to 595 head – down from 803 head.

Over 1.07 million cattle have been slaughtered in Ireland this year – back 8,480 head on last year.

The general run of prices for cows are 290-300c/kg for P-grading animals and up to 320c/kg for O-grade cows, with those falling into the R-grade category starting at 320-330c/kg or higher in some plants.

The bull kill is well back on 2019 levels and O-grading bulls are making 340-350c/kg; R-grade quotes stand at 350-360c/kg; with U-grades at 370c/kg.