During 2019 there were 344,671 prime cattle killed in local plants, representing a 2% increase from 2018 levels, according to the Livestock and Meat Commission.
The number of steers killed in NI increased by two per cent to total 163,918 head during 2018 while the number of heifers slaughtered increased by three per cent to a total of 136,004 head.
Steers and heifers, the LMC outlined, accounted for 87 per cent of prime cattle throughput in NI plants during 2019 with the remaining 13 per cent made up by young bulls. “These proportions were unchanged from the previous year.”
“Some of this increase in prime cattle throughput has been offset by a decline in cow throughput in NI during 2019.”
Cow throughput totalled 99,321 head during 2019, a four per cent decline from the 103,533 cows killed in local plants during 2018.
There were also 5,970 calves killed in local plants during 2019, a two per cent decline from 2018 levels.
Meanwhile, the number of mature bulls processed increased by 12 per cent to total 5,258 head. The total number of cattle passing through the plants came in at 455,220 head during 2019, an increase of 3,881 head or one per cent from 2018 levels.
Increasing carcase weights
“Increases in average carcase weights for all types of cattle have contributed to an increase in the volume of beef being handled by local processors.”
The LMC pointed out at during 2019, the average carcase weight of prime cattle killed in NI plants increased by 7.3kg to 343.5kg.
“This increase, combined with the two per cent increase in prime cattle throughput, has resulted in a four per cent increase in the volume of beef handled by local beef processing plants to total 118,423 tonnes during 2019.”
The average cow carcase weight in NI increased by 7.7kg to 307.8kg during 2019. “However, this increase was offset by the decline in cow throughput with the volume of cow beef processed back two per cent during 2019 to 30,526 tonnes.”
“While the volume of beef from calves and mature bulls provide only a small proportion of NI plant throughput, the volumes processed increased by 6 per cent and 17 per cent respectively during 2019.”
This, the LMC concluded, takes the total volume of beef processed in NI plants to 152,538 tonnes during 2019, a three per cent increase from year-earlier levels.