The number of male cattle exported from the Republic of Ireland (ROI) to Northern Ireland for further production during 2014 was markedly lower than 2013 levels, according to the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC).
In an analysis of the trade in 2014, it says, with these cattle out of spec’ for major customers in the UK and alternative markets returning weaker prices for this beef, fewer cattle have been exported due to lower farmgate prices associated with mixed origin cattle.
During 2014, the LMC in Northern Ireland says 7,081 male cattle were imported from the Republic for direct slaughter compared to 10,130 head the previous year.
This reduction by 3,049 head accounts for a 30% reduction year on year, it says.
In 2012, the LMC says a total of 12,882 male cattle were imported from the Republic for further finishing on Northern farms. This was 45% higher than the number imported in 2014.
According to the LMC while there was a notable decline in the number of cattle being imported for further production between 2012 and 2014 the seasonality of imports has remained with the number imported peaking in the autumn months.
This coincides with beef cattle coming off grass in the Republic and coming to Northern Ireland to be housed for finishing, it says.
Numbers of the ground
According to the LMC analysis of the number of cattle on the ground has at the close of 2014 there were 2,569 beef sired male cattle on Northern farms aged 18- 30 months that were born outside Northern Ireland and these accounted for 2.5% of all beef sired male cattle in this age bracket on Northern farms.
In December 2012 there were 6,301 male beef sired cattle on Northern farms in the 18-30 month age bracket that were born outside Northern Ireland and these accounted for 5.6% of cattle in this age bracket on Northern farms.
The LMC also says imports of prime cattle from the Republic for direct slaughter in Northern plants have also recorded a reduction year on year.
In 2014 a total of 24,422 prime cattle were imported from the Republic compared to 26,645 prime cattle during the previous 12 months.
According to the LMC this decrease by 2,223 head represents a 8% reduction year on year.
Imports of prime cattle for direct slaughter from the Republic accounted for 8% of the Northern prime cattle kill in 2014, it says.