Local Cattle And Sheep Supply Tight In May

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - The latest cattle and sheep slaughter figures from DARD show that during the month of May, the availability of stock for slaughter at the local plants remained tight and slaughterings were lower than May 2010.
calendar icon 10 June 2011
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In April, supply had been 16 per cent lower than previous year levels, but although throughput did recover somewhat last month supply remains lower than previous year levels. For the year to date, total cattle slaughterings are three per cent lower than the same period in 2010.

Steer and heifer slaughterings have fallen by five per cent during May. This has been driven by a combination of factors, including reduced numbers on the ground, reduced imports and increased exports for direct slaughter. Young bull and calf slaughterings have increased year-on-year during May. However, with increased exports of dairy bull calves to the continent over the last year, it is likely that young bull slaughterings have peaked.

Mature bull slaughterings, which were very high over the course of last year, certainly appear to have peaked. Throughput of these animals at the plants is less than half the equivalent figure for last May and is down by 18 per cent over the course of the year to date.

The reduced availability, particularly of steers and heifers, goes some way to explaining the higher prices that have been on offer over the course of the year to date. Figure 1 clearly illustrates how availability has also been significantly reduced in ROI over the course of the year to date. Total prime cattle slaughterings are down by 7.5 per cent over the first five months of the year in the south. The decline would have been steeper were it not for a 31 per cent increase in young bull slaughterings. Steer slaughterings have fallen by 17 per cent and the heifer kill is nine per cent lower over the course of the year to date, compared to the same period last year.

The availability of lamb has also been under pressure during May. Throughput in the NI plants remains significantly lower than last May, with lamb slaughterings down by 46 per cent. This is not unexpected given the increase in live exports to ROI over the last year. It is also important to note that during last May, Foyle Meats was still in the lamb processing business and their exit from the lamb trade in July 2010 was a catalyst for an acceleration in the decline in the NIkill.

Despite the increased numbers of sheep exported to ROI, slaughter numbers in the south are no higher than last year. Over the course of the year to date there has been a one per cent increase in the lamb kill, but an 8.5 per cent decline in cull ewe and ram slaughterings has meant that the overall kill is slightly lower than the same period last year.

Further Reading

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