LMC: 4% Decline In Cattle Kill Confirmed For 2011

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - Last year was a remarkable year for deadweight cattle prices, according to the Livestock and Meat Commission of Northern Ireland.
calendar icon 10 January 2012
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In Northern Ireland, prime cattle prices were generally 14 per cent higher than 2010 levels throughout 2011 and to a large extent the strong prices were driven by the tight supply situation throughout Ireland.

Table 1 below shows how the cattle kill in Northern Ireland was significantly lower in 2011 compared to 2010 levels. Over the course of the year the total prime cattle kill was six per cent lower than 2010 levels. However, with a 14 per cent increase in the cull cow kill, the impact on throughput at the factories in 2011 was softened to a certain extent with the overall kill down by four per cent.

2011 was bookended by a very large cattle kill in both January and December. Last January, the kill was significantly higher than previous year levels, while in December the general trend of tight availability throughout 2011 was broken with a four per cent increase in the prime cattle kill (a reflection of the big freeze in December 2010). With heavier carcase weights also, overall prime beef production was six per cent higher than December 2010 levels. With the cow kill up by 24 per cent year-on-year, the overall kill was up by seven per cent in December.

The stronger kill in December meant that the overall decline in slaughterings in 2011 was not just as steep as it may have been otherwise. By the end of 2011, the steer kill was down by two per cent compared to 2010 levels. However, the young bull / calf kill was down by 17 per cent on 2010 levels, meaning that the overall male prime cattle kill was down by seven per cent. This reflected the reduced number of cattle on the ground over the course of last year.

The mature bull kill was down (-34 per cent) sharply also. It is important to note that this does not represent a liquidation of the breeding bull kill and rather is a reflection of the reduced number of male beef cattle being kept entire and fed beyond 24 months (the age at which a young bull is deemed to become a mature bull).

The five per cent decline in the heifer kill also reflected this lower number of cattle on the ground. The reduced heifer kill also corresponded with increased retentions of heifers in 2011 for breeding. This would have reduced the number available for slaughter.

With more heifers retained for breeding and strong cull cow prices, there was a significant 14 per cent increase in the number of cows slaughtered in 2011 compared to 2010. This was driven mainly by an increase in the beef cow kill.

Lamb kill down by 13 per cent

In 2011, the lamb kill was significantly lower than 2010 levels. By the end of September, the kill for the year to date was running at 25 per cent lower than 2010 levels. However, with a substantial uplift in the kill in the final quarter, the overall kill for 2011 was just 13 per cent lower than 2010 levels.

In December the NI lamb kill was 50 per cent (10,000 head) higher than 2010 levels. This is a substantial increase and reflects a trend which was ongoing throughout the entirety of the final quarter of 2011. It does not appear that this increase has been at the expense of exports to ROI and it remains to be seen whether throughput in early 2012 will be tighter as a result of this increased kill in late 2011.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

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