Market report: Confidence in beef calves grows in NI

Beef calf production in Northern Ireland stabilised in the first half of 2010, indicating a return of confidence to the sector.

Recent years have seen a sharp decline in beef-sired calf registrations, with a substantial drop in the number of Limousin and Charolais-sired births, says a report by the Livestock & Meat Commission. In contrast, the number of calves sired by dairy bulls has increased steadily since 2006.

But in the first half of 2010, beef-sired births remained consistent with 2009 levels, while dairy calf production fell slightly.

“The industry will welcome any stemming of the decline in beef-sired calf registrations,” says the report. “The stabilisation may reflect improved confidence in the industry early last year and may have prompted more producers to put cows back in calf or heifers to the bull.

“Whether the stabilisation is maintained into 2011 will depend on confidence this year, which is bound to be dented by lower finished prices – although store prices remain resilient.”

Processors will also welcome the news, although steer and heifer throughputs will continue to decline next year due to the lower birth registrations in 2008/09.