The latest animal feed statistics, released by Department Agriculture and Rural Development in Northern Ireland (DARD), have indicated a general decline in the amount of concentrates fed on Northern Ireland beef and sheep farms during the first nine months of 2014 when compared to year earlier levels.

In its latest weekly update the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) in Northern Ireland outlines the DARD figures on the total volume of beef cattle compounds and beef coarse mixes and blends delivered to Northern farms from January 2013 to September 2014.

The figures show that the volume of deliveries every month in 2014 to date have been below the corresponding month in 2013.

According to the LMC an earlier spring and good grass growing conditions that continued right through the summer months reduced the need for concentrate feeding on Northern Ireland farms.

It says in the third quarter of 2014 (July, August and September) a total of 63.8 thousand tonnes of beef concentrates were delivered to Northern farms. This was 20% lower than the corresponding period in 2013 when 79.6 thousand tonnes were delivered.

The LMC also says the reduced use of beef concentrates during 2014 to date may also reflect a the change in the slaughter mix to some degree, with fewer bulls being fed and farmers opting instead to produce steers.

The DARD statistics also show that during the third quarter of 2014 a total of 8.1 thousand tonnes of concentrates for feeding to sheep were delivered to Northern farms. In the same period in 2013 a total of 9.5 thousand tonnes were delivered to Northern farms, representing a 15% reduction year on year.