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LMC: Poor Grass Growth Lifts Feed Buying

05 March 2013

Northern Ireland - The unsettled and unpredictable weather during 2012 resulted in higher concentrate inputs in both the beef and sheep sectors as producers altered production practices to cope with poor grass growth during the summer months and lower forage availability, and quality, during the autumn and winter months, write experts at Livestock Meat Commission Northern Ireland.

This increased dependence on concentrates to maintain animal performance coincided with an increase in the cost of already expensive concentrates due to reduced crop yields in many parts of the world and an ever increasing global demand for cereals for feed and fuel.

The latest figures released from DARD for concentrate usage in 2012 has indicated notable increases in concentrate usage in both the beef and sheep sectors when compared to 2011.

Total deliveries of beef cattle compounds and beef coarse mixes and blends in Northern Ireland during 2012 was 400.2 thousand tonnes, a thirteen per cent increase on the 354.6 thousand tonnes delivered during 2011. This increase in concentrate usage is apparent in Figure 1 which plots beef concentrate deliveries over the course of 2011 and 2012.

Total deliveries during summer 2012 were markedly higher than during summer 2011 and this higher level of concentrate usage continued right through until December 2012. Beef concentrate deliveries in the third quarter of 2012 resulted in concentrate deliveries being 31 per cent higher than the corresponding period in 2011.

Beef concentrate usage in the final quarter of 2012 was eleven percent higher than the corresponding period in 2011. Total beef concentrate usage and cattle slaughterings are usually closely linked but the poor weather experienced in 2012 increased the amount of concentrates required to bring animals
through to slaughter.

This resulted in a thirteen per cent increase in beef concentrate usage at a time when total cattle slaughterings were back by 1.2 per cent when comparing 2012 with 2011.

When analysing feed statistics it is also important that we consider the balance of NI slaughterings with the number of ccattle imported and exported for direct slaughter. By doing this it is possible to
establish the number of cattle fed/finished in NI.

In 2012 424,670 head were finished on farms in NI, a reduction of 9,000 head on 2011 figures. This represents a decline of two per cent in the number of finishing cattle fed in 2012 while concentrate inputs were thirteen per cent higher.



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