How many E-grade cattle were slaughtered between January and March?

E-grade cattle accounted for the lowest proportion of animals slaughtered in approved beef export plants between January and March of this year.

An analysis of figures from the Department of Agriculture’s classification percentages shows that just 1,822 cattle – a combination of young bulls, aged bulls, steers, cows and heifers – were classified as being E grade upon slaughter.

To put this figure into context, almost 428,000 cattle were slaughtered in the first three months of 2018 or – in other words – just one out of every 250 animals achieved the top carcass conformation classification.

Table: Carcass grades of cattle slaughtered between January and March 2018

U-grade animals accounted for the next smallest proportion of the kill; just 13.8% of all of the cattle sent for slaughter between January 1 and March 31 were classified as U.

On the other hand, R and O-grade cattle – when combined – accounted for the majority of the cattle processed in Ireland. In addition, P-grade carcasses were produced by 18.7% or 80,243 of the cattle dispatched for beef production.

Category breakdown

When looked on at a category-by-category basis, young bulls and aged bulls shared the plaudits when it came to the percentage of the kill classified as being E grade; 1.9% of all animals slaughtered within each of these two categories achieved the top conformation specification.

Table: Carcass grades by category

However, just 0.1% of all steers – some 139 animals – were classified as being E grade. P and O-grade carcasses dominated this segment of the kill and accounted for 62.4% of the steer carcasses processed.

A similar story was also witnessed with heifers. Of the 126,063 heifers slaughtered between January and March, just 0.3% of the heifer kill fell within the E-grade category, while R, O and P-graded animals accounted for 83.5% of the total heifer kill.

Meanwhile, when we look at the cow carcasses obtained, just 18 cows graded E between January and March; 2,058 were classified as U; 10,710 R-grade cows were slaughtered; and 24,291 O and 50,324 P-grade cows were processed in approved beef export plants.