Total young bull kill is bucking all the trends
The shift towards young bull beef slaughter is roaring ahead and bucking all the slaughter trends.
Despite an overall decline of 7.5pc in the total number of cattle slaughtered in beef plants so far this year, the number of young bulls slaughtered is up by 35.6pc.
Bord Bia market analyst Joe Burke said the high proportion of young bulls processed was a clear indication of farmers' decision to take advantage of the higher efficiencies from finishing young bulls at a younger age, compared to steer beef.
In 2010, 20pc of the prime male kill consisted of young bulls, rising from 10pc of the kill in the previous year.
The Bord Bia analyst said he expected the trend to continue, with young bulls reaching 25pc of the prime male kill in 2011.
However, Rory Fanning, managing director of Slaney Foods, urged farmers who were switching away from steer beef to check with their meat factory that there was an outlet for bull beef. Too much of a swing towards bull beef could have a negative impact on markets where our Irish steer beef was sought after, he said.
Meanwhile, changing customer requirements and rising feed costs in Italy could affect the type of Irish weanling required for export this year, farmers have been warned.
Younger bulls under 12 months of age and under 430kg will be in demand but heavier, older bulls will not be attractive to Italian buyers, Mr Burke has predicted.