Beef farmers in Northern Ireland lost over £2m (€2.56m) in 2015 due to over-age animals, according to the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC).

In 2015, there were over 280,000 cattle slaughtered in the North, but approximately 42,500 of these cattle were over 30 months of age, it shows.

These over-age cattle were penalsied heavily, as the price difference between over 30 month and under 30 month cattle was 14p/kg (18c/kg).

During 2015, the average price paid for steers and heifers under 30 months of age was 332.5p/kg (425.7c/kg) compared to 318.4p/kg (407.6c/kg) for animals over 30 months of age, the LMC reports.

As a result of this price difference, beef farmers in Northern Ireland made the equivalent loss of £48.06 (€62) per head because these animals were more than 30 months of age.

Figures from the LMC show that 85% of the cattle slaughtered in Northern Ireland during 2015 were under 30 months of age, while a further 13% were killed between 30 and 36 months.

However, it says that beef farmers are becoming more efficient in Northern Ireland.

According to the LMC, there has been a notable increase in the proportion of steers and heifers killed at 29 months of age, as producers kill cattle before the 30-month deadline.

It also indicates that there have been slight reductions in the average age at slaughter of steers and heifers killed in the North, which is a sign of an improvement in efficiency.

But, farmers must not lose focus in producing steers and heifers that meet the market specifications, as this is vital to maximise the returns on prime cattle that are presented for slaughter, the LMC advises.

[caption id="attachment_109732" align="aligncenter" width="413"]Northern Ireland Source: LMC[/caption]