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LMC: Cattle Slaughterings Up on Year on Year As Production Drops

11 June 2013

NORTHERN IRELAND - Despite May cattle slaughter figures being almost 2,500 higher than May 2012, lighter carcasses meant beef production fell by an average of 16.5 kg, according to market analysts at the Livestock and Meat Commission Northern Ireland.

Prime cattle slaughterings in NI during May 2013 totalled 35,246 head compared to 32,796 head during May 2012. This increase by 2,450 head accounts for an increase of seven per cent in prime cattle throughput when comparing the two months, write LMC experts. 

While the NI steer kill was back by five per cent from 15,624 head in May 2012 to 14,826 head in May 2013 the heifer kill increased by 19 per cent from 10,852 head to 12,952 head. This notable increase in the heifer kill will lead to a reduction in the number of heifers being retained for breeding which could have longer term consequences for the beef industry.

Between the same periods the young bull/calf kill increased by 18 per cent to 7,468 head. For 2013 to date the prime kill in NI was 148,685 head, a four per cent increase on the 143,071 head processed in the same period in 2012.

This increased throughput however has not translated into higher levels of beef production from the prime kill due to a notable drop in average carcase weights. The average prime carcase weight in May 2013 was 325.5kg compared to 342kg in May2012, a reduction of 16.5kg.

This decline in carcase weights can be attributed to the difficult production conditions and feed shortages faced by producers over the last year which had a negative effect on animal performance.

Despite this notable drop in carcase weights total beef production from the prime kill for the first five months of 2013 was almost unchanged from the same period in 2012 at 48,699 tonnes.

The cow kill in May 2013 totalled 8,366 head, a five per cent increase on the 7,958 head slaughtered in May 2012. Cow slaughterings for the year to date have totalled 36,523 head, an eleven per cent increase on the 32,890 cows slaughtered during the same period in 2012.

This increase in cow slaughterings has resulted in a nine per cent increase in the amount of cow beef processed to 10,761 tonnes during 2013 to date. Average cow carcase weights in 2013 to date have been back on the same period in 2012 but have not shown the same level of decline as the prime cattle carcase weights.


In the period January-May 2013 the average cow carcase weight was 295.1kg compared to 298.2kg during the same period in 2012. With the increased throughput of cows by the plants and with a 34 per cent increase in the number of cows entering into fallen stock in 2013 to date there has been a drop in the number of cows on the ground.

The latest statistics from DARD for May 2013 have indicated a two per cent decline in the number of beef sired female cattle over 30 months of age on the ground compared to the same time last year. The same report indicates a four per cent decline in dairy females over30 months of age.

Meanwhile the number of beef cattle and dairy sired males on the ground aged 12- 30 months has remained steady at 456,000 head. Overall there has been a six per cent increase in the number of cattle processed by the NI plants during 2013 to date compared to the same period during 2012.

This has helped to increase total beef production for the year to date by two per cent on the same period last year.

TheMeatSite News Desk

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