Northern Ireland’s (NI) average prime cattle price during August was 423.5p/kg – an increase of 32.5p/kg from August, 2021, when the average prime cattle price was 391p/kg, the LMC has reported.

This accounts for an 8.3 per cent increase year on year; however, the figure does not reveal the increase in cost of production during the same period.

In monetary terms, the increase equates to a £120.40 increase on a 350kg carcase year on year. In the Republic, the R3 steer price increased by the equivalent of 48.4p/kg to 408.6p/kg.

Meanwhile, in Britain, the R3 steer price was up by 26.4p/kg to 442.5p/kg in August, which accounts for a £92.40 increase in the value of a 350kg carcase, year on year.

The differential in R3 steer prices between NI and GB narrowed from 14.7p/kg in August, 2021 to 6.7p/kg in August, 2022.

Meanwhile, the differential in R3 steer prices between the Republic and NI narrowed from 41.2p/kg in August, 2021 to 27.2p/kg in August, 2022.

Prime cattle throughput in NI during August totalled 32,667 head – a 3.7 per cent decrease from a year earlier’s levels.

This decline corresponds with the current slaughter forecast of LMC which anticipates a reduced availability of prime cattle for slaughter in NI during this quarter, and is reflected by the increased imports of prime cattle for direct slaughter seen during the month of August.

Meanwhile, cattle exports from NI for direct slaughter in GB and the Republic totalled 219 head during August – down by 133 head, or 37.8 per cent, from the 352 head exported during August, 2021. 

Average carcase weights decreased for all classes of prime cattle slaughtered in NI during August from August, 2021 levels.

The average prime cattle carcase weight was back by 6.2kg to 341.2kg, equating to a decline of 1.8 per cent, year on year.

Meanwhile, the cow carcase weight during August decreased by 7.8kg to 300.4kg, which was a 2.5 per cent decrease from a year earlier’s levels.

The number of cattle for beef production on NI farms aged between 12 and 30 months decreased by 4,920 head, or 1.1 per cent, to a total 461,224 head in August.

The number of beef-sired cattle in this age group decreased by 4,646 head, or 1.1 per cent, to total 428,432 head, while the number of dairy-sired males in this age category declined by 274 head, equating to a 0.8 per cent decline to total 32,792 head.

The decline in dairy male calf births on NI farms seen during the first six months of 2022 continued during the month of August.

A significant 20.3 per cent decrease in dairy male calf births on local farms was recorded during August, with 2,502 head registered.

This decline in dairy male calf registrations displays a productivity advancement by the NI dairy industry making use of beef sires on dairy dams, thus allowing producers to avail of the benefits of hybrid vigour, providing improved growth rates and offering animals of improved conformation scores, and thus animals of a higher market value.

Use of sexed semen by dairy producers to breed replacements for the milking herd is also a contributing factor to this reduction in dairy male calves on local farms.