Record U-grade heifer kill up 32pc
The supply of U-grade prime beef animals to beef export factories have reached record highs.
U-grade animals are worth an average of €60/head over the base prices under the Quality Payment System (QPS) initiated in 2009.
Grading figures released by the Department of Agriculture for the kill at the 25 beef export factories for the first quarter of 2012 show the supply of U-grade heifers was up by 32pc, while U-grade steer supplies were up by 24pc.
Commenting on the rise in quality cattle being presented at meat plants, the ICSA's Eddie Punch said the shift may be due to a better quality weanling, along with Irish finishers competing more with exporters for top-quality stock.
"Producers are also doing a better job and feeding a bit more ration for an earlier finish," added Mr Punch.
"Due to the high cost of buying in stores and the price of beef they are less inclined to hold animals for long periods and that is also helping the grading."
He added that the reduction in the suckler herd gave farmers a chance to cull poorer quality cows.