Northern Irish store cattle exports almost reached £10m (€12.50m) last year, recent figures from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) show.

According to its Statistical Review of Northern Ireland Agriculture 2015, the number of store cattle shipped from Northern Ireland increased by 9.6% on the year before to reach 11,950 head.

Along with the number of store cattle shipped increasing the prices farmers received for these cattle also jumped by about £25/head (€31/head).

Last year, the average price for store cattle shipped from Northern Ireland was  £795/head (€993/head), increasing by 3.2% on the year before.

As a result, the revenues generated from these exports were 13% higher than the previous year.

According to DARD, the main market outlet for these store cattle was Britain, which accounted for 93% of store cattle shipments.

Northern Ireland cattle kill

The DARD report also shows that the number of cattle slaughtered in Northern Ireland decreased slightly last year.

Both steer and heifer slaughterings dropped on 2014 levels by 14% and 4.4% respectively.

Young bull throughput also decreased, as farmers in the North focused on finishing steers rather than bulls last year.

Figures from DARD shows that there was a 30% drop in the number of bulls slaughtered last year, bringing the steer kill to almost 31,000 head last year.

But, despite the number of prime cattle slaughterings falling, the volume of beef produced actually increased by 101,600t due to heavier carcass weights last year.

This means that the value of Northern Irish beef increased by £332m (€414.9m) last year on the year before.

However, despite the decline in prime cattle throughput, the report indicates that the North’s cull cow kill increased by 3.9% to 98,400 head.

The average price paid for cull cows in Northern Ireland also dropped last year, falling by 2.2% to £2.14/kg.