Northern Ireland prime throughputs see Christmas rise
Published:  27 November, 2017

Northern Ireland prime cattle throughput in local plants has increased with 7,283 head killed in the last week.

According to data from the Livestock and Meat Commission for Northern Ireland (LMCNI), this brings prime cattle throughput for the year to date to 292,626 head, a 6% increase on the corresponding period last year when 276,545 prime cattle were killed in local plants.

LMCNI said there had been a “firm demand” for prime cattle from the plants with reports that some of the major processors are actively seeking cattle to fulfil demand for beef from their major customers in the run-up to Christmas.

The increase in prime cattle slaughterings in local plants has been attributed to the increase in the number of cattle for beef production on Northern Ireland farms. During October 2017 there were 183,774 beef sired cattle aged from 18-24 months, an 11% increase from October 2016 levels when there were 166,093 beef sired cattle in this age range.

There was also an increase in the number of beef sired cattle in the 24- to 30-month age category on farms. In October 2017 there were 82,618 beef sired cattle in this age category, up 9% from the 75,882 head on farm in October 2016.

The number of prime cattle being exported out of Northern Ireland for direct slaughter also recorded a decline during 2017. During the year to date 2,140 prime cattle have been exported to Great Britain for direct slaughter compared to 4,683 head in the same period in 2016. This accounts for a 54% decline year on year. Prime cattle exports to the Republic of Ireland for direct slaughter totalled 1,204 head during 2017 to date, back from 1,966 head in the same period in 2016.

While exports of prime cattle out of the country for direct slaughter have decreased, the number of prime cattle imported for direct slaughter has held relatively steady. For 2017 to date, 7,912 prime cattle have been imported from the Republic of Ireland with a further 459 head from Great Britain. This compares to 7,975 head from Republic of Ireland and 206 head from Great Britain in the same period in 2016.