Tighter supplies constrain Irish cattle kill

Thursday, 1 July 2021

The number of Irish cattle slaughtered between January and May (inclusive) was 706,900 head, down 6% on the same period last year, according to Central Statistics Office Ireland.

More recent weekly slaughter data from Bord Bia shows that so far in 2021 (year to 19 June), the prime cattle kill is down 7% compared to the same period last year. This is mainly due to lower heifer slaughter, although all prime categories are down. Cow kill on the other hand is reportedly up 3% year-on-year, not enough to outweigh lower prime throughputs.

Tighter cattle supplies have contributed to lower kill so far in 2021, which has supported prices recently. Average weekly Irish R3 steer prices reached €4.17/kg in the week ending 19 June, up 56 eurocents on the year, according to data from the European Commission. Prices are still behind the GB equivalent, which for the same week stood at €4.62/kg, although the gap has narrowed over recent weeks.

Irish supplies are expected to remain constrained through the rest of the year, according to Bord Bia, reflecting strong calf exports in 2019 and a reduction in young bull finishing. Production is expected to recover in 2022.

According to Irish government data, the number of animals available for short-term prime beef production at 1 May 2021 (dairy males, beef males and beef females aged 12-30 months accounting for suckler replacements), was up 4% from the same point a year ago. However, this was largely due to higher numbers of 12-18 month old cattle, which would most likely be coming to market in 2022, supporting expectations of higher production next year.

Image of staff member Hannah Clarke

Hannah Clarke

Analyst - Livestock

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