Prime cattle slaughterings in Northern Ireland totalled 35,246 head during May – a 7% increase on the same month last year.
Although the steer kill fell by 5%, to 14,826 head, the heifer kill increased by 19%, to 12,952, said a report by the Livestock and Meat Commission. “This will lead to a reduction in the number of heifers being retained for breeding, which could have longer-term consequences for the beef industry.”
Over the same period, young bull and calf throughputs increased by 18%, to 7,468 head. Overall prime slaughterings for the year to date were 4% up on last year, at 148,685 head – but prime beef production was almost unchanged due to a notable drop in average carcass weights.
“The average prime carcass weight in May was 325.5kg compared to 342kg in May 2012,” said the report. “This can be attributed to the difficult conditions and feed shortages faced by producers over the past year.”
Prime beef production from January to May was almost unchanged on last year, at 48,699t. However, cow beef production increased by 9%, to 10,761t, with throughputs rising by 11% to 36,523 head.