It is likely that cattle supplies in Northern Ireland will remain tight in 2015, according to the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) in Northern Ireland.
It says on January 1, 2015, the number of beef-sired cattle on the ground between 12-30 months old was 5% lower than at the start of 2014.
Likewise, it says the number of dairy sired male cattle on the ground between 2-18 months old was 5% lower at the start of 2015.
The LMC says with the dairy market forecast to remain under pressure an increase in the cow kill is likely in 2015, driven mainly by hard-pressed dairy producers disposing of unproductive stock.
However, it says with more cow beef coming from the dairy herd, average cow carcase weights are likely to fall in 2015.
According to the LMC, Northern Ireland abattoirs slaughtered 417,000 cattle in 2014.
It says this means that Northern Ireland cattle slaughterings were 5% lower than 2013 levels, when the annual cattle kill was 438,000 head.
The LMC says the decline in the kill has been driven by two main factors; the reduction in the young bull kill and a smaller cow kill this year. Meanwhile, the steer kill increased significantly.
The young bull kill fell significantly in 2014 due to changes in the market whereby the value of over 16 month bulls fell sharply early in the year. The number of young bulls presented for slaughter in 2014 dropped by 25,000 head compared to the previous year
Cow slaughterings fell by 8% (7,000 head) in 2014, having been at a high level in 2012 and 2013.
The LMC says the rate of cow slaughtering since 2011 in Northern Ireland has been particularly high. It says this reflects the fact that many suckler beef producers have struggled with profitability.