Prime cattle throughput eases but weekly kill remains unchanged

There was a slight ease in the number of prime cattle killed at Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants last week.

Recent figures from the Department of Agriculture show that last week’s throughput of prime cattle dropped by 1% or 332 head on the previous week.

The majority of this drop was due to a decline in the number of steers slaughtered during the week ending April 17, with kill numbers back by 891 head or 7%.

However, the weekly kill of young bulls and heifers increased by 40% (+492 head) and 1% (67 head) respectively.

But, despite the decline in prime cattle numbers, the overall number of cattle slaughtered last week was similar to the week ending April 10 at 30,402 head.

There was also some movement in the cull trade, with the throughput of aged bulls falling by 45% compared to the week earlier, while cow throughput increased by 12%.

Last week’s relatively unchanged beef kill, follows a five-week period when the number of cattle slaughtered on a weekly basis declined.

According to Bord Bia, cattle numbers will continue to tighten over the next three months, before increasing in the second half of the year as an extra 50,000-80,000 cattle are expected to come on stream.

Week-on-week beef kill changes:
  • Young bulls: +492 head (+40%)
  • Bulls: -503 head (-45%)
  • Steers: -891 head (-7%)
  • Cows: +728 head (+12%)
  • Heifers: +67 head (+1%)
  • Total: -67 head (No change)

Cumulative cattle kill

The figures from the Department of Agriculture also show that cumulative cattle supplies to the week ending April 17 are still ahead of the corresponding time in 2015.

The young bull kill posted the highest jump, increasing by 70% or 17,213 head, while the cumulative steer kill also increased slightly by 1% or 2,206 head.

The Department’s figures also show that the heifer kill has also risen, up 1% this year on last year’s levels.

However, the cumulative supply of cows and aged bulls has actually been lower this year, the Department figures show. The cumulative cow kill has declined by 4% (3,300 head), while the aged bull kill is down by 20% (2,123 head).