Is the dairy cow cull starting? Cow throughput jumps 8% in the space of a week

The number of cows slaughtered at Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants jumped by 8% last week.

According to figures from the Department, 7,359 cows (both beef and dairy) were slaughtered during the week ending June 7.

This is almost 580 more cow slaughterings than the week before.

Procurement managers have also reported a spike in cow throughput last week.

Earlier this week, a number of procurement managers said that dairy cull cow numbers are starting to increase on a week-by-week basis.

One said that farmers facing lower milk prices are taking this opportunity to cull the under productive cows from their herds.

Another added that there is ‘no shortage’ of dairy cows being brought forward for slaughter.

This increase in cull cow throughput may indicate that some dairy farmers are cutting their losses, especially with under-performing stock.

In late May, the IFA said that the majority of Irish dairy farmers would find themselves in the red during the month of May.

IFA’s National Dairy Committee Chairman, Sean O’Leary said this was as a result of milk prices of 23-25c/L, which were below the average cost of production on many farms.

Prime cattle supplies remain tight

Meanwhile, figures from the Department show that prime cattle supplies have continued to remain tight.

During the week ending June 7, just over 20,000 young bulls, steers and heifers were slaughtered at Department approved beef export plants.

This means that the prime cattle kill has reduced by 5.8% between the week ending June 7 and the week before.

However, despite the decline in prime cattle throughput, the number of young bulls slaughtered last week increased by 9% compared to the week before.

But, steer and heifer throughout has declined by 14% (1,401 head) and 3% (222 head) respectively.

The fall in prime cattle throughput means that the number of cattle slaughtered in Ireland has been below 30,000 for the last seven weeks.

Week-on-week beef kill changes:
  • Young bulls: +362 head (+9%)
  • Bulls: -93 head (-12%)
  • Steers: -1,401 head (-14%)
  • Cows: +579 head (+8%)
  • Heifers: -222 head (-3%)
  • Total: -782 head (-2.7%)

Cumulative beef kill

According to the Department, an extra 1,261 cattle have been slaughtered in Ireland so far this year.

The majority of this increase is due to a jump in young bull throughput, as supplies of these animals are up 9% in 2016 compared to the corresponding time in 2015.

Cull cow slaughterings are also higher this year, with an extra 579 cows slaughtered compared to last year.

However, the number of steers and heifers slaughtered so far this year to the week ending June 7 are back by 14% and 3% on the corresponding time last year.

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