Strong prices set to continue into next year
Strong cattle prices look set to continue as the shortage of prime cattle for slaughter runs into next year.
Bord Bia analysis of cattle supplies shows that the availability of prime cattle for the rest of this year and into 2012 looks set to be considerably tighter than last year.
So far this year, prices paid by Irish beef plants have been more than 16pc higher than the same period last year, and Irish average cattle prices exceeded the European average for the first time since mid-2008.
The biggest decline is in the numbers of young male cattle, as revealed by the Department of Agriculture's AIM figures.
Male animals aged 12-30 months are 165,000hd lower than at the same time last year. This is largely the result of strong live exports of male calves and weanlings in recent years, along with the increase in young bull production.
Bord Bia figures indicate that finished cattle supplies at Irish export meat plants so far this year are running 55,000hd (5pc) lower than 12 months ago.
Within this, there is a clear switch away from steer beef to bull beef, with a 14pc fall in steer numbers slaughtered and a 20pc increase in young bulls slaughtered.
The number of heifers slaughtered is down 8pc, while cow slaughterings are on a par with last year. However, an increase in cow numbers is expected as culling is ramped up on account of the tight dairy quota situation and ample stocks of replacements.