Imports of prime cattle from the Republic of Ireland for direct slaughter in Northern Ireland (NI) plants last week totalled 921 head, an increase of almost 100 head from the previous week.

According to the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) in NI this is the highest weekly level of import since September 2013 and accounted for 15% of the total prime beef kill in NI plants last week.

At a recent IFA beef meeting President Eddie Downey outlined that its new labelling proposals, attempting to rectify the nomad cattle issue, are now in their final stages. Downey outlined that the proposal is now with Tesco UK officials and a decision is expected in the coming days.

IFA Livestock Chairman Henry Burns, who also spoke at the meeting confirmed that the new labelling arrangements are crucial. He noted that more Northern Ireland buyers are increasingly evident at marts around the country.

He commented: “There is an expectation created that the new labelling will happen and some northern buyers are buying into that. They cannot be let down.”

Meanwhile exports form the North of prime cattle to Britain for direct slaughter last week increased to 301 head, the highest weekly level of export since October 2013.

Latest figures from the LMC show that the throughput of prime cattle in the NI plants last week totalled 6,099 head, an increase of 515 head from the previous week when 5,584 prime cattle were slaughtered.

In the corresponding week last year 6,734 prime cattle were killed in NI plants accounting for a nine per cent drop in prime cattle throughput year on year. Prime cattle throughput in NI for 2014 to date is running 5.4% behind year earlier levels with 12,872 fewer prime cattle slaughtered year on year.

The LMC figures also show that a total of 1,364 cows were killed in NI plants last week, a decline of 613 head from the previous week and markedly lower than the 1,726 cows slaughtered in NI plants during the corresponding week in 2013.

Cow throughput in NI for 2014 to date has totalled 56,182 head compared to 62,734 head in the corresponding period in 2013. This accounts for a 10.4% decline in throughput year on year.