Farm Ireland

Friday 19 January 2018

Beef finishers getting higher value in North

Martin Ryan

Beef finishers in Northern Ireland are producing over 60pc more high value U grade steers than their southern counterparts, according to a comparison of the latest official grading results from north and south of the border.

More than one in every five steers slaughtered in Northern Ireland between April and June were graded as Us, compared to just one in every eight in the south.

The results, recorded by slaughter plants and provided to the Northern Ireland Meat and Livestock Commission and the Department of Agriculture, show that beef farmers in the North are getting much more of their cattle into the higher value grades than their southern counterparts. The average price difference between a U grade and an O grade of similar weight is currently running at more than €120/hd.

One of the factors contributing to the stark difference in grades is the higher percentage of beef animals in the south coming from dairy herds.

The figures show that a high proportion of steers in the south grade O or P. O grade steers in the south were 27pc higher than in Northern Ireland and P grade steers were 18pc higher than North.


On fat scores, the North had a higher percentage of fat scores 3 and 4, but had lower 1, 2, and 5 fat scores, than in the south.

Automated grading in the North is now similar to the south, with a grid similar to that used under the Quality Payment System (QPS) in the south.

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There were also difference in grading results for heifers between north and south but they were less pronounced than for the steers.

The percentage of U grade heifers was 17pc higher in Northern Ireland than in the Republic, while O grade heifers in the North were 7pc lower than in the south.

Irish Independent