Beef kill: Factory throughput 65,000 cattle ahead of 2021


The total number of cattle processed to date this year is running 65,280 cattle (excluding veal) ahead of last year, according to the most recent beef kill figures from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

A total of 610,193 cattle (excluding veal) have been processed at DAFM-approved facilities in the first 18 weeks of this year, up to and including the week commencing May 2.

In the same time period last year, 544,913 cattle had been processed.

The number of cattle processed to date has increased in all categories, but the largest increases can be attributed to rises in the steer, heifer and cow categories.

The major talking point of the beef kill this year has been the rise in the number of cows processed, with just over 137,900 cows processed in total so far this year.

The number of cows processed is 25,100 head more than last year’s levels, and there has been much speculation as to whether they have been coming from the suckler or the dairy herd.

Department data is available for January and February of this year and shows, contrary to what has been thought, that the rise in the number of cows processed for these two months came solely from the dairy herd.

While it remains unclear if this trend has continued, DAFM data does show that just under 20% of the cows processed last week graded between an O + and a P- while two weeks ago, 91% of the cows processed graded in this category.

Steers and heifers

Meanwhile, the number of steers processed to date this year is 225,568, which is up 22,858 on the number of bullocks processed in the same time period last year.

And, a total of 184,652 heifers have been processed to date this year, which is up 14,900 heifers from the same time period last year.

Bord Bia had initially anticipated the factory cattle supply to rise by 70,000 head this year, but following the significant rise in farm costs and an unprecedented increase in the cow kill, it now estimates that roughly 90,000 extra cattle will be processed this year.

While supply remains fairly strong, a dip in the supply of finished cattle could be seen in the coming weeks as farmers switch their focus towards silage and fodder-making and leave grass cattle at home to feed them for an extra couple of weeks.


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