Fat scores of finished beef cattle plummet
The scarcity of quality feed has cost farmers €1.5m in cattle returns so far in 2013.
Figures from the Department of Agriculture show that there has been a sharp drop in fat scores of animals supplied to the country's beef factories during the first three months this year.
The number of animals with low fat scores of one or two has almost doubled on the corresponding three-month period in 2012, with a corresponding drop in stock scoring four or five. Animals scoring three escape any penalty, but a drop in fat score from three to two typically costs the producer 35c/kg or €100/hd.
With an extra 15,000 steers and heifers dropping down to a score of two in the last quarter, farmers are estimated to have lost €1.5m in fat penalties compared to the same period last year.
The increase in numbers of under-finished stock is further evidence of the problems at farm level with feed supplies and quality. The returns for January to March show a 75pc rise in fat score one steers and a 78pc increase in steers with a fat score of two.
Over-fat animals, with a fat score of four or five, were down 70pc and 92pc respectively. The number of fat score two animals increased from 10pc to 18pc of the kill, while fat score four animals dropped from 33pc to 10pc.
The impact for heifers was slightly less than the steers. Fat score one and two heifers increased by 50pc and 54pc. Fat score four and five heifers were down by 16pc and 72pc.
There were 109,066 steers and 97,324 heifers supplied to meat factories in the first quarter of 2013.
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