Mixed Trends in Livestock Supplies to Date

IRELAND - To date this year, mixed trends have been evident for meat supplies at export meat plants, reports Peter Duggan, Strategic Information Services, Bord Bia-Irish Food Board.
calendar icon 15 March 2012
clock icon 2 minute read

Cattle supplies as expected have tightened further on the back of reduced availability of cattle for finishing as discussed in this 2011/12 Meat and Livestock Review. In contrast, an increase in sheep and pig supplies has been evident due to a combination of an increase in productivity and some increase in numbers.

According to the CSO, cattle supplies were three per cent higher at 124,700 head in January as strong prices encouraged some forward marketing of stock. AIM data for the 1 December 2011 shows a reduction of almost 130,000 head in the number of cattle in the 12-30 month age bracket compared to a year earlier. Up to first week of March, cattle supplies are back by over six per cent or 16,600 head to 256,300 head. For the year as a whole, a reduction of 70-90,000 head is anticipated. A strong decline in steer and heifer availability is only expected to be partly offset by higher young bull and cow disposals.

The December 2011 livestock survey showed an increase of over four per cent in the sheep breeding flock at 2.52 million head. Supplies at export meat plants to date are running five per cent higher at 276,400 head as increased numbers were carried forward into 2012. Irish sheep prices more than seven per cent higher at €4.90 excluding VAT.

In terms of pigs, export meat plant supplies are currently six per cent ahead of last year’s levels at 457,000 head, reflecting higher levels of productivity. For the year though, the pig supply base is not likely to show any change on last year’s levels. The breeding herd recorded a fall of two per cent in the December 2011 livestock survey.

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