Widespread fall in cattle supplies as the weekly kill drops below 28,000

All of the major categories of Irish cattle posted a fall in throughput numbers last week, figures from the Department of Agriculture show.

According to the Department’s beef kill data, cattle supplies continue to remain tight on the ground with just 27,466 head slaughtered at approved plants last week.

This means that the number of cattle slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved plants has been below 30,000 head for the past eight weeks.

Looking at the prime cattle kill for the week ending June 12, the number of young bull, steer and heifer slaughterings have all dropped.

The number of young bulls slaughtered at Department approved export plants is back 3% compared to the week before.

And the weekly slaughterings of steers and heifers is also down, falling by 2.3% (200 head) and 3.7% (270 head) respectively.

Like the prime cattle kill, the number of cull cows and aged bulls brought forward for slaughter have also decreased.

During the week ending June 12, aged bull throughput fell by 165 head compared to the week before, while cows slaughterings were down by only 43 head.

Week-on-week beef kill changes:
  • Young bull: -135 head (-3%)
  • Bull: -165 head (-24%)
  • Steer: -200 head (-2.3%)
  • Cow: -43 head (-0.6%)
  • Heifer: -270 head (-3.7%)
  • Total: -800 head (-2.8%)

Cattle numbers set to increase

However, despite the tightening of cattle supplies over the past eight weeks, the number of cattle expected to be slaughtered in Ireland is set to increase before the year ends.

Speaking to Agriland recently, Bord Bia’s Joe Burke said in the region of an extra 60,000-80,000 cattle are expected to be slaughtered in Ireland later this year.

The Beef and Livestock Sector Manager said approximately 50% of these extra slaughterings will be cull cows, as an extra 35,000 cows are expected to come on stream this year.

Burke also said that the remaining kill increase will be due to a rise in steer, heifer and young bull slaughterings, with about 30,000-40,000 more of these animals expected to be slaughtered this year.

Cumulative cattle supplies

According to the Department, an extra 15,000 cattle have been slaughtered in Ireland so far this year.

It shows that this increase is mainly due to a jump in young bull throughout, with slaughterings of these animals 24,508 higher than the corresponding time in 2015.

Meanwhile, fewer steers and heifers have been slaughtered so far this year, with steer throughput back by 3% and heifer slaughterings down by 276 head on last year.

However, it also shows that cull cow numbers are up on last year, with an additional 2,638 head slaughtered so far this year, up 2% compared to same time in 2016.