Nearly 30,000 cattle per month originating from ‘Controlled Finishing Units’ in 2019

Figures freely available on the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine database have indicated the number of cattle coming on stream for slaughter originating from ‘Controlled Finishing Units’.

These figures show that an average of 28,200 head of cattle have been slaughtered from these finishing units – each month – for the first five months of 2019.

However, it must be noted these units can consist of department-restricted feedlots, factory-contracted feedlots and factory-owned feedlots.

Department-defined (restricted) feedlots are now operational in all 26 counties; compared to operations in just 10 counties back in 2008.

Source: Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Ireland east and Monaghan chairman for the Beef Plan Movement – Michael Rafferty – said: “In the first five months of 2019, it shows 141,000 cattle were processed from these units and a substantial increase year to date over last year and the penultimate year.

“If this relentless pace continues, these feedlots could hit 400,000 cattle in 2019,” he added. “This represents an extra 35,000 cattle or extra 7,000 cattle a month coming from these feedlots in five months.”

Oireachtas committee

Recently, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture published its report highlighting that the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, needs to initiate a review of these operations and the impact they are having on the Irish beef trade.

Rafferty explained: “It’s important that the minister starts this review immediately in light of their ever rising output and the effect these higher figures are having on the market for Irish beef farmers’ top-quality produce.

The Beef Plan is also questioning why the department is not publishing the precise kill numbers from these units, but only disclosing these figures as round thousands numbers.

Concluding, Rafferty said: “It’s imperative that precise cattle numbers are published so we get a clearer picture of the numbers from these controlled units.”

Meat Industry Ireland

Meanwhile, Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has recently stated: “Factory-owned and factory-controlled feedlots are important for ensuring an all-year-round supply of in-spec cattle.”

The organisation – which represents the meat processing industry under the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) – was responding to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s newly published document which has monitored progress under Food Wise 2025.


The organisation said: “The vast majority of controlled finishing units are farmer owned and operated. Factory-owned and factory-controlled feedlots account for less than 5% of cattle.”

The document – entitled ‘The Future of the Beef Sector in the Context of Food Wise 2025’ – has tabled 12 recommendations in response to significant farmer-led concerns over the current state of the beef sector.

Chief among these concerns are: feedlot operations; the quality payment system (QPS); and Brexit.