LMC Report: Increased Slaughterings in First Quarter

UK - In the first quarter of 2010, the number of cattle slaughtered in the Northern Irish meat plants was approximately 117,000 head; over 7,500 head more than in the same period last year.
calendar icon 8 April 2010
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Given the ongoing reduction in beef cow numbers over the last year, coupled with the ongoing decline in calf births, this may come as a surprise to producers. This increased kill is mainly a consequence of a 56% increase in the young bull kill, and reflects developments in the trade of cattle to and from ROI, GB and Europe over the last few years.

One of the standout figures from Table 1 below is the 56 per cent increase in the throughput of young bulls in the NI plants this quarter compared to last quarter. The young bull kill now represents almost 19% of the prime cattle kill, six percentage points higher than the equivalent figure for last year. The increase in the young bull kill is a reflection of the reduced volume of exports of dairy bull calves to the European mainland in the last two years. Back in 2007, this represented a very significant trade (over 30,000 head). In 2009, around 7,000 head were exported to Europe. With fewer of these calves exported in 2008/09, there is a greater proportion of dairy calves available for rearing and slaughter in NI and this is reflected in the throughput figures.

The other standout figure from Figure 1 below is the 232% increase in the mature bull kill. If this represented a liquidation of the breeding bull herd it would be very alarming. However, the increase probably represents an increase in the number of young bulls that are being fed beyond 24 months (the official EU category for young bulls is under 24 months). This in itself is a concern. It is well established that the meat from older bulls is more likely to be dark, firm and dry (one reason for the under 16 month specification on young bulls) and as a region that prides itself in producing top quality beef, this is something that the NI beef industry should probably be moving away from.

Table 1. Cattle and Sheep Slaughtering for the Foodchain

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

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