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Steer Slaughterings Decline

13 August 2010

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - A cursory glance at the slaughter figures for July 2010 would suggest that cattle numbers in Northern Ireland (NI) were generally stable in comparison with the equivalent figures for 2009.

However, the numbers in each of the different categories reveal a changing picture. The slaughter figures for July 2010 reveal that total cattle slaughterings were two per cent lower this July compared to the previous July. However, were it not for a substantial increase in bull slaughterings (young and mature), the overall picture would be radically different.

The steer kill this July was 20 per cent lower than July 2009; the heifer kill was 10 per cent lower. By contrast, the young bull kill was 45 per cent higher and whereas last July it accounted for 21 per cent of the prime cattle kill, this July, young bulls make up 31 per cent of the prime kill. Steer numbers have fallen by around 3,000 head, while young bull numbers have increased by a similar quantity.

The simplest explanation for this development is that beef farmers who would previously have produced steers, are keeping their male calves entire to benefit from improved performance. This is probably a consequence of tighter margins on steers and increased awareness of the benefits of bull beef production. However, the increased number of young bulls also draws our attention to the proportion of NI beef production sourced from the dairy herd in 2009.

Young bull production is generally associated withmale dairy-sired calves. These animals are a by- product of the dairy industry and with more of these calves being registered and retained in NI in the last two years, this has led to the number of dairy-sired young bulls in the slaughter mix this July being almost double that of July 2009.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

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