Supplies of both cattle and sheep to processors in recent weeks have been at high levels according to latest figures from the Department of Agriculture.

Cattle supplies at export meat plants last week were over 34,000, the previous week ending August 29 the kill stood at 33,400 head, which was more than 4,400 head above the corresponding week in 2013. Cumulative supplies for the year to-date are running at around 124,500 head or 12.5% ahead of the equivalent period last year.

Recent increases in the beef kill follows a decrease of supplies to some extent in July. At 138,200 head cattle slaughtering’s in July were up just 1%, or 1,900 head, compared with July last year. With carcase weights staying higher, beef and veal production still increased by 4% to 45,700 tonnes.

However, this was the smallest year-on-year uplift in 2014 so far and well behind the double digit increases in the March to June period.


Latest data from the Department of Agriculture also shows that the sheep kill is also running at very high levels with kills in excess of 65,000 over the past two weeks.

Supplies for the week ending September 5 stood at around 66,000 head, which is 11% higher than supplies for the corresponding week in 2013. Cumulative supplies are around 2% higher than 2013 figures, standing at around 1.7 million head.

When compared to 2013 a big impact on the sheep trade has been the slump in live sheep exports by over 72% in July, due to the absence of Libya from the live Irish sheep export market.

Declan Fennell of Bord Bia said this is largely down to the absence of live exports to Libya due to political instability in the market. “In July 2014, live exports are back by 27,164 head, equivalent to 72% drop when compared to the same period in the previous year.” In 2013 some 57% of the sheep shipped live from Ireland went to Libya.

In July this year, over 4,000 sheep were shipped live from Ireland. Italy was the largest importer of live Irish sheep with over 1,800 going there. Germany and France were the next largest importers at over 800 head. Last month the UK imported just over 500 head of live sheep.