The Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) is reporting this week that the cow trade in Northern Ireland is coming under considerable pressure due to a weaker demand for cow beef.

The European market has been impacted greatly due to the effects that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the food service industry.

Last week, O+3-grade cows and better were being priced from £2.45-2.70/kg (€2.75-3.03/kg). Similarly to the southern trade, cow price took a knock of 15p/kg (17c/kg). 

Prime R-3-grading cattle were quoted between £3.50-3.56/kg (€3.92-3.99/kg); while prime cattle achieving a U-3-grade were trading at £3.56-3.62/kg (€3.99-4.06/kg). Prices are predicted to rise 4p/kg to £3.58-3.66/kg (€4.01-4.10/kg) for this week.

It should be noted that these prices include bonuses where applicable.

Cattle throughput

For the week ending November 1, cow throughput in Northern Ireland had increased slightly from the previous week, as it tallied to 2,664 head.

According to the LMC, a 3% increase has been noted in the number of cows processed so far this year in comparison to last year, as the figure has risen to 84,959 head.

A total of 7,553 head of prime cattle had been processed in the north. Throughput for the year has amounted to 286,898 head to date.

In comparison to last year, this figure has fallen by 2% on 2019’s throughput for the corresponding period, which amounted to 293,057 head. 

There were 235 head of prime cattle and 83 head of cows imported to the north from the south, during the same week, for direct slaughter.

Meanwhile, 85 head of northern cows travelled in the opposite direction, as they were exported to the south for direct slaughter.

So far this year, there has been 232 head of prime cattle exported to the south for direct slaughter – which is a decline of a startling 459 head in comparison to the same period for 2019.