Week-on-week steer and heifer kill continues to fall

The cattle kill is still showing signs of slowing on a week-to-week basis, recent figures from the Department of Agriculture show.

In recent weeks, the number of prime cattle being slaughtered has dropped and this trend has continued for the week ending March 3.

The number of steers and heifers slaughtered during the week ending March 3 dropped by 2% and 5% respectively on the week before, Department figures show.

The number of cows slaughter has dropped between the week ending March 3 and February 28, with throughput at Department approved export plants back by 121 head (-2%).

Bord Bia previously predicted that cattle throughput was likely to remain low in the first half of 2016, before increase in the last six months of the year.

However, despite the fall in steer, heifer and cow throughput, the number of young bulls and cull bulls processed in recent weeks have increased.

Figures from the Department show that the young bull kill has increased by 7.6% (+344 head) over the last two weeks, while cull bull throughput has jumped by 29% (+146 head).

When all the rises and falls are accounted for, the total beef kill for the week ending March 3 stood at 32,551 head. This is 1% lower than the week before.

Week-on-week beef kill changes:
  • Young bulls: +7.6%
  • Bulls: +29%
  • Steers: -2%
  • Cows: -2%
  • Heifers: -5%
  • Total: -1%

Cumulative cattle kill

Despite the week-on-week kill showing signs of slowing, cumulative cattle supplies this year are 7% (+19,401) higher than the same time in 2015.

The majority of the increase comes from a rise in young bull, steer and heifer throughput.

  • Young bull throughput: +34% (12,760 head)
  • Steer throughput: +7% (6,661 head)
  • Heifer throughput: +3% (2,898 head)

The increase in young bull throughput more than likely occurred as many farmers seen this as a lucrative venture due to the relatively high prices being paid for these animals last year.

The Department data also shows that there has been a reduction in the number of cows and cull bulls slaughtered during the first two months of the year when compared to last year.

Cow throughput has dropped by 4% (2,330 head), while the number of aged of cull bulls being slaughtered is down by almost 900 head (-16%).