‘Suckler calf registrations fall due to income pressure at farm level’

The number of suckler calves registered during 2016 declined by about 23,000 on the year before, according to Bord Bia’s Joe Burke.

The Livestock Sector Manager said this is mainly due to income pressure at farm level.

“On the suckler side, slightly worryingly we saw a decline in calf registrations to suckler cows of upwards of 23,000 head.

“There was an increase in calf registrations during 2015, but that was more or less negated by the decline which we saw during 2016,” he told crowds at the recent Bord Bia Meat Market Seminar.

Burke added that due to a rise in the size of the Irish dairy herd, Holstein Friesian calf registrations increased by 5%, while Hereford and Angus registrations also climbed.

“During 2015 we saw increases of almost 20% in calf registrations to Hereford and Angus breeds.

During 2016, that trend was similar but not quite as significant. We saw increases of 7-8% in calf registrations for Angus and Herefords respectively.

He added that this was driven by demand for those animals at market level, as calves, stores and finished animals and premiums being paid back through producer groups and bonus schemes.

However, Burke added that declines have also occurred in the number of calf registrations to most of the continental breeds – Charolais and Belgian Blue in particular.

Carcass weights fall by 0.5%

Burke said that beef carcass weights declined slightly in 2016, with the average falling by about 0.5% or about 1.5kg, while young bull carcass weights declined by almost 5kg.

“This would be a contribution of slightly earlier finishing, cattle being killed at a slightly younger age and combined with a higher number of animals from the dairy herd as opposed to the heavier carcass weight animals that tend to come from the suckler herd.

“You might have expected it to be slightly more significant, it probably will decline by more next year,” he said.

Burke added that in there region of 100,000-120,000 extra cattle are expected to come on stream this year, following on from the extra 80,000 slaughtered during January to December 2016.