Significant Drop In The Prime Cattle Kill In April

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - Beef supplies in Northern Ireland are under pressure at the moment with throughput in the Northern Ireland factories currently lower than previous year levels.
calendar icon 20 May 2011
clock icon 2 minute read

This will come as no surprise to producers who will have been keenly aware of the tighter supply situation and the strong farmgate prices that are currently available.

This April prime cattle supplies were down by 17 per cent compared to the same period last year, and while the cow kill was only one per cent lower, the mature bull kill was half the level of April 2010.

The reduced kill was expected to a large degree and must be seen in the context of what was a particularly high cattle kill in April last year. Last April the kill was swelled by a substantial increase in the availability of dairy bulls for local slaughter. With reduced exports of dairy calves to the continent in 2008 / 2009 more of these bulls were retained in Northern Ireland (NI) for finishing in 2010. However, in the last year, exports of these bulls have increased sharply with almost 16,000 shipped out (mainly to Spain) in 2010. This has meant that availability has fallen and it would appear that the young bull / mature bull kill has peaked.

In the last year, the increased availability of dairy bulls compensated for a long-term decline in the availability of beef-sired cattle. This decline is a factor in the 16 per cent decline in the number of steers and heifers slaughtered this April compared to last April. Compounding this issue has been a reduction in the number of cattle imported onto NI farms from Republic of Ireland (ROI). Imports for further feeding have fallen sharply since the start of the year when compared with the same period in 2010.

Another factor which is impacting the availability of cattle for finishing is a change in the import / export trade for direct slaughter. In April 1,171 head were exported to plants in ROI / GB for direct slaughter. This was 72 per cent higher than the corresponding figure in April 2010. Meanwhile, the strong prices for finished cattle in the south, coupled with a weak pound have meant that numbers coming in the opposite direction have been under pressure. This April 2,660 head were imported from ROI for direct slaughter. The corresponding figure for last April was 3,820. Unlike last April, there have been cattle imported from GB for direct slaughter (253 head) and while NI remained a net importer of cattle for direct slaughter in April, net imports were 44 per cent lower this April compared to last April.

Further Reading

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