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2009 Irish Livestock Supplies Reviewed

16 February 2010

Total cattle disposals in 2009 were four per cent higher than previous year levels at just 1.9 million head, writes Peter Duggan, Strategic Information Services, Bord Bia.

This reflects a significant increase in live exports which more than offset a drop in export meat plant supplies.

The key trends in disposals during 2009 were as follows:

  • Exports meat plant supplies falling by four per cent.
  • Jump of 93 per cent in live cattle exports.

Prime cattle supplies at export meat plants fell by six per cent to 1.16 million head, reflecting a strong level of live exports into Northern Ireland during the year.

In terms of the different categories of cattle, steer supplies were 10 per cent below year earlier levels at 635,600 head. Supplies of heifers were more than two per cent lower at 405,500.

In contrast, young bull throughput was 10 per cent higher at 120,200 head.

This year, up to the week ending the 6 February, cattle supplies have risen by more than 20,000 head on the corresponding period last year.

The drop in live cattle exports in 2008 would suggest some increase in finished cattle availability in 2010.

However, the strength of live exports of weanlings and store cattle in 2009 is expected to impact strongly on finished cattle availability as the year progresses. Some uncertainty surrounds producer intentions in relation to cows with anecdotal reports suggesting increased cow disposals are likely in 2010.

Average prices across all categories of cattle eased in 2009, reflecting difficult trading conditions and lower consumption levels across Europe. Steer prices were almost 10 per cent lower at €2.87 kg dw excl. VAT with R3 heifer prices falling by nine per cent to €2.93 /kg dw excl. VAT. O3 cow prices were 12 per cent lower at €2.36 /kg excl. VAT.

February 2010

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