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A Look Back at Irish Livestock Supplies in 2008

14 January 2009

Total cattle disposals in Ireland for 2008 were almost nine per cent lower than last year at 1.8 million head.

This reflects a drop in export meat plant supplies and live cattle exports during the year, reports Peter Duggan, Strategy Information Services, Bord Bia. The key trends in disposals during 2008 were as follows:

  • Exports meat plant supplies falling by almost seven per cent
  • Live exports 29 per cent lower

Prime cattle supplies at export meat plants fell by almost seven per cent to 1.22 million head. This reflects a strong level of live exports in 2006, a lower carryover of finished cattle into the spring of 2008 and high meal feeding costs. Within the total:

  • Steer supplies were ten per cent below a year earlier at 702,000 head
  • Heifer supplies were three per cent lower at 411,000 head 
  • Young bull supplies were up one per cent at 107,000 head

Cow throughput at export meat plants fell by almost eight per cent to 329,000 head. This reflected increased retention of cows. Live exports for 2008 are estimated to have fallen by 29 per cent to 147,000 head or a drop of 61,000 head on the year previous.

Irish export meat plant supplies, 2008 vs. 2007 (change in head)

Source: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

Some increase in cattle supplies at export meat plants is anticipated during 2009, particularly given the fall in supplies at export meat plant supplies evident from late October. However, throughput is expected to remain well below the levels evident in 2007. Most of this increase is expected in the first half of the year.

Average prices across all categories of cattle increased significantly in 2008, reflecting improved trading conditions, lower supplies across Europe and restrictions on Brazilian beef imports. R3 steer prices were 15 per cent higher at €3.18 kg dw excl. VAT. R3 heifer price trends were similar, with prices for the year as a whole significantly higher by 40 c/kg or 14 per cent at €3.22 /kg dw excl. VAT. Cow prices for the year were 20 per cent higher at €2.68 /kg excl. VAT. 

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