Industry estimates suggest that an additional 100,000 cattle will be presented for slaughter over the duration of 2017.

Already this year, official figures from the Department of Agriculture have shown that 803,004 cattle have been slaughtered in Irish plants – an increase of 36,698 head or 4.8% on the corresponding period in 2016.

Therefore, some 63,300 extra cattle are expected to come forward for slaughter before the year ends. This is set to boost finished cattle supplies by 2,300/week on average for each of the remaining 27 weeks in 2017.

Figures from the Department of Agriculture’s beef kill database show that the majority of the additional supplies witnessed in 2017 have come in the form of cows, steers and heifers.

In total, some 176,135 cows, 280,152 steers and 222,312 heifers have been slaughtered in approved beef export plants this year – a combined jump of 42,847 head on 2016 levels.

However, there has been some downward movement in bull supplies. Up to June 25, some 105,234 young bulls and 13,139 aged bulls had been processed in Ireland – a fall of 6.8% and 9.2% respectively on 2016 levels.

Year-on-year beef kill changes (week ending June 25):
  • Young bulls: 105,234 head (-7,724 head or -6.8%);
  • Aged bulls: 13,139 head (-1,333 head or -9.2%);
  • Steers: 280,152 head (+16,046 head or +6.1%);
  • Cows: 176,135 head (+19,356 head or +12.3%);
  • Heifers: 222,312 head (+7,445 head or +3.5%);
  • Total: 803,004 head (+36,698 head or +4.8%).

Why are numbers increasing?

There are two main reasons why cattle supplies are expected to increase by 100,000 head this year.

Firstly, there was an increase in the number of calves registered in 2015, with registrations rising by over 13,000 head on the previous year; this was driven by the removal of dairy quotas in the first half of the year.

In addition, live cattle exports also declined by 60,000 head during 2015 – leading to more animals being carried on Irish farms until slaughter.