Finishers make shift to bull beef production
A dramatic switch from steer beef to bull beef among intensive finishers has been confirmed by the latest figures from the Department of Agriculture.
The intake of young bulls at the country's 25 export plants has drawn almost on par with the steer supply in a revolutionary change in the pattern of beef production on Irish farms.
Official figures for last month show that the number of young bulls supplied to beef factories nationally came within 1,600hd of the steer kill. The bull intake rocketed to 25,329hd compared with 26,955hd for steers.
A decade ago, young bulls accounted for less than 5pc of the steer supply but this has now totally changed.
If the expansion into bull beef production continues to increase at the scale experienced over the past two years, it is set to exceed the steer supply within the next four months.
The producers of bull beef are benefiting from the earlier maturing to slaughter weight, better grading at the factories and the exclusion, as yet, of young bulls from the quality payment system (QPS).
Figures compiled by the Department show a far superior grading result for young bulls compared to steers.
On conformation, almost 40pc of the young bulls grade U compared with 8pc of steers, while only 20pc fell into the O grade compared with 42pc of steers. These figures were based on a kill of almost one million head.