There was a slight increase in the number of cattle slaughtered at Department of Agriculture approved beef export plants last week.

According to the Department, just over 29,000 cattle were slaughtered in Irish factories during the week ending May 30, 2% higher than the week before.

However despite the increase, the weekly beef kill has remained below 30,000 head for the past six weeks, indicating some tightening in cattle supplies.

A number of procurement managers told Agriland that they will face difficult securing cattle over the next couple of weeks due to tightening supplies.

And this may lead to some farmers being able to push factories for a better beef price over the next couple of weeks.

Cattle numbers increase

The majority of last week’s increase comes on the back of a higher number of young bull slaughterings.

Official figures show a 18% or 650 head rise in young bull throughput last week compared to the week before.

Figures from the Department of Agriculture show that cow and aged bull slaughterings also increased during the week ending May 30.

The number of aged bulls slaughtered has jumped by 15% (103 head), while cow throughput increased by nearly 250 head.

However, the number of steers slaughtered during the week ending May 30 was relatively unchanged from the week before.

The steer kill increased by just 60 head, while heifer throughput declined by 5.6% or 445 head compared to the week before.

Week-on-week beef kill changes:
  • Young bulls: +650 head (+18%)
  • Bulls: +103 head (+15%)
  • Steer: +60 head (+0.6%)
  • Cow: +248 head (+3.8%)
  • Heifer: -445 head (-5.6%)
  • Total: +618 head (+2%)

Cumulative cattle slaughter

Despite the tighter beef kill over the past six weeks, the cumulative supply of cattle slaughtered so far this year is running 13,574 ahead of the same time in 2015.

The majority of this increase comes from a jump in young bull throughput, as an extra 22,279 (+31%) young bulls have been slaughtered this year compared to last year.

But the cull cow and heifer kill remains relatively unchanged from last year, while there were 20.5% fewer aged bulls and 2% fewer steer slaughterings so far in 2016.

Beef Supply Outlook

According to Bord Bia, beef supplies are likely to remain tight over the next couple of months as a slow spring and low grass growth rates seen turn out delayed on farms by five-to-six weeks.

It reports that the delay in turnout is likely to have an impact on the grass cattle slaughterings, which are said to be a couple of weeks behind the same time in 2015.

However, cattle supplies are expected to increase in the second half of the year, it reports, with an additional 60,000-80,000 cattle expected to come forward for slaughter before the year ends.