About 38% of the steers slaughtered in Northern Ireland this year do not meet the requirements of the retail specification, recent figures from Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) show.

The LMC says that retail specifications demand cattle with carcass weights in the range of 280-320kg.

But, there has also been an increase in the number of steers killing out with carcasses weighing over 420kg, it shows.

Approximately 9% of steers slaughtered in the North in January and February of 2016 have carcasses weighing in excess of 420kg, this is up 2.3% on the same period last year.

However, the data shows that the proportion of heifer carcasses weighing above the 280-320kg retail spec have decreased slightly.

Over 76% of heifer carcasses slaughtered in January and February of 2016 meet this key market requirement, it shows

But, the number of heifers with carcasses over 380kg has increased by 10.3% on the same period in 2015.

There has also been a decline in the number of heifers slaughtered under 280kg. Throughput of these animals during the first two months of 2016 has dropped by 2.3% on the same time in 2015.

The figures presented also indicate that the carcass weights of cattle slaughtered in the North continues to increase.

During the first two months of 2016, the average steer carcass weighted 358kg, which is an increase of 9kg on the corresponding period in 2015.

Northern heifer carcass weights have also increased, it says. Heifer carcasses have increased by 5kg to 323kg in the first two months of 2016 on 2015 levels.

Beef producers in Northern Ireland should take care when selecting animals for slaughter, as recent figures published by the LMC show that farmers lost over £2m due to over-weight cattle in 2015.