Production of bull beef has lost its sheen
After explosive growth over the past seven years, it looks like bull beef production has peaked.
Rising meal costs, valuable Friesian calves and disastrous grazing conditions have already put a lot of producers off the idea.
But the main driver of change is one that is only beginning to emerge. The unique selling point of Irish beef in all of our high-priced markets is the fact that steer beef has extra marbling and the high-price cuts fit the tray sizes and price-points that supermarket outlets require.
While weather and concentrate costs may change from one year to the next, customer specifications are unlikely to change to suit Irish producers.
That's why there is a 20pc discount on bull striploins compared to steer ones at the moment.
In addition, Continental customers claim that if they wanted extra bull beef, they can source it cheaper elsewhere in Europe.
The exception is Britain, but it is only interested in bulls that are less than 16 months of age. Up to 90pc of our bulls are finished older than this because it is the best way for farmers to maximise returns.