Figures from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) show that almost 70% (67.6%) of the cows processed in the week ending Sunday, December 11, were P-grade cows.

A total of 23.1% of these graded P-, 26.8% graded P= and 17.7% graded P+.

Meanwhile, 20% of the cows processed in this week were O-grades, 11% were R-grades and the remainder were U-grade cows.

Overall kill

The total number of cattle slaughtered to date this year has increased by just over 127,000 head (including veal) on last year’s throughput.

The table below shows the number of cattle in each category slaughtered at DAFM-approved plants in the week ending December 11, and overall to date this year:

Week ending December 11Same week last yearCumulative
Difference to date
Young Bulls:2,9453,349125,499121,109+4,390

As the table above indicates, the largest increase in numbers has been seen in the cow category with almost 55,000 additional cows processed to date this year.

Next is steers with an extra 36,646 bullocks processed to date this year. The reduced number of live calf exports in 2020 and 2021 is likely a contributing factor to this increased steer kill.

Fat score observation

Looking exclusively at last week’s heifer kill, 56.8% of heifers graded a 3+ or above in flesh.

Alternatively, 16.4% of the steers processed last week scored a 2= or below in flesh.

For heifers and steers to be considered ‘in spec’ they must score between a 2+ and a 4= in flesh. The number of heifers killing out in the higher end of this fat score indicates an area where farmers have the potential to reduce slaughter age.

However, farmers who are finishing ‘short fleshed’ steers need to review their feeding plan to ensure there cattle are meeting the required fat score or alternatively, sell their steers at the mart as store cattle.