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LMC: Carcase Weights and Slaughter Rates Fall in 2012

07 January 2013

NORTHERN IRELAND - Average prime cattle weights fell by 3.2kg from quarter 3 into quarter 4 and slaughter rates fell on 2011 figures by 11,594, report the Livestock and Meat Commission of Northern Ireland.

Prime cattle slaughterings during 2012 totalled 336,098 head a reduction of 11,594 head on 2011 when prime cattle throughput totalled 347,692 head. This reduction in the throughput of prime cattle represents a decline of three per cent year on year. There has however been a recovery in the availability of prime cattle as the year has progressed as indicated in Figure 1.

Table 1 outlines a breakdown of the prime kill by quarter in 2011 and 2012. In the first quarter of 2012 prime cattle throughput was 14.7 per cent lower than the corresponding period in 2011 and in the second quarter throughput was 5.2 per cent lower with 4,320 fewer prime cattle slaughtered. However increased availability of prime cattle in the third quarter saw throughput increase to 82,756 head, an increase of 6.3 per cent on the same period in 2011.

Prime cattle throughput in the final quarter of 2012 was 2.6 per cent ahead of the final quarter of 2011. The amount of beef from prime cattle processed obviously follows a similar trend to prime cattle throughput.

While beef production in the first two quarters of 2012 was below the levels seen in 2011 the amount of beef from prime cattle processed in the third quarter of 2012 was 7 per cent per cent ahead of the corresponding quarter in 2011. The amount of prime beef processed in the fourth quarter of 2012 was 1.7 per cent ahead of the same period in 2011.

There was also an increase in average carcase weight of prime cattle between 2011 and 2012 from 335.5kg in 2011 to 340kg in 2012. Much of this increase in carcase weights can be observed in the first half of 2012 as outlined in Table 2.

Average prime cattle carcase weights showed an increase in the first three quarters of 2012 when compared to the corresponding periods in 2011.

In quarter 2 the average prime cattle carcase weight was 342kg, 10.5kg heavier than the same quarter in 2011. However the average prime cattle carcase weight in the fourth quarter was 3.2kg lighter than the same period in 2011 at 335.8kg.

The combination of the increase in carcase weights in the first three quarters of 2012 and the increase in cattle throughput in the last half of 2012 has helped to offset the deficit in the amount of beef from prime cattle processed in the first half of 2012. At year end the total amount of beef processed from prime cattle was back 2.1 per cent between 2011 and 2012.

The amount of cow beef processed has however increased 5.6 per cent between 2011 and 2012 with an additional 7,957 cows slaughtered. During the first quarter of 2012 cow throughput was 6.1 per cent behind the same period in 2011. However in the second quarter the throughput of cows recovered and was 1.4 per cent above the corresponding period in 2011.

In the third and fourth quarters of 2012 the cow throughput was 19.2 per cent and 17.2 per cent higher respectively than the corresponding periods in 2011. It is likely that the wet summer and poor grass growing conditions encouraged producers to cull underperforming cows and thus the increase in cow slaughterings in the second half of the year.

There has been a drop in the average cow carcase weight from 304.3kg in 2011 to 296kg in 2012. This is partly due to an increasing number of dairy bred cows in the slaughter mix but forage shortages and high concentrate prices at present may also have resulted in producers marketing underfinished cows which will have resulted in lower carcase weights.

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