independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Irish cattle kill set to increase by 150,000

The total cattle kill this year could increase by more than 150,000 head compared to 2012, Bord Bia has forecast.

The number of cattle available for slaughter looks set to top 1.55m head in 2013, bringing the factory throughput back in line with 2011.

Speaking at the Meat Market Prospects Seminar in Dublin last Friday, Bord Bia beef sector manager Joe Burke said the lift in numbers was expected to materialise in the second half of this year as cattle came fit.

He pointed out that calf registrations had increased by 99,000 head in 2011 compared to 2010.

Exports of weanlings and calves in the same year were also back 111,000 head.

Mr Burke said a number of factors could impact on the overall kill and when the expected surge in cattle numbers would come on stream.

He said a continuation in the trend towards young bull production would mean that bigger numbers would come out earlier.

However, Mr Burke predicted a recovery in the percentage of males to be killed as steers. He said the preference of factories for steers and the sharp lift in the cost of concentrate feed had put many farmers off young bull production.

The possible reopening of the live export trade to Libya would also impact on the number of cattle available to the slaughter plants, Mr Burke said.

In terms of cattle prices last year, Mr Burke stated that the average Irish steer price was €3.91/kg, 6c/kg behind the EU average of €3.97/kg.

However, the Irish price was 53c/kg below the British average of €4.44/kg.

Assessing EU beef market trends, Bord Bia's Mark Zieg said that declining consumption and price competition in some markets posed real challenges for the sector.

However, he pointed out that falling beef production across Europe offered opportunities for Ireland.

While Irish beef production looks set to increase by 8pc this year, throughput in British beef plants dropped 6pc last year and is forecast to fall further in 2013.

Cattle throughput also fell in French and Italian slaughter plants in 2012 by 5.7pc and 4pc respectively. Cattle imports in Spain and Italy were also well back, down by 17pc and 10pc respectively.

Looking forward to 2020, Mr Zieg said market trends suggested that EU beef consumption would fall by 2pc.

During this period, EU beef imports would grow from 300,000t to 400,000t, while exports would fall to around 100,000t from current levels of 300,000t.

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