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LMC Report: Lower Carcase Weights in the EU

24 April 2009

UK - Although a similar number of cattle and calves were slaughtered in the EU last year compared with 2007, beef and veal production at just over eight million tonnes fell by nearly two per cent.

The high cost of feed in 2008 and the favourable beef market resulted in many producers selling their animals earlier than normal and therefore at lower carcase weights than in 2007. This was the scenario for both prime cattle and cows.

Lower carcase weights in NI

The situation in the EU was reflected in Northern Ireland where the average carcase weight of steers and heifers in 2008 was over 3kg lower than in 2007. In the first quarter of 2009, the average carcase weight of prime cattle decreased by over 8kg and this needs to be carefully monitored to see if it is the beginning of a further decline, or simply a reflection of farmers selling lighter out of yards to minimise the cost of concentrate feeding (note graph is example using heifers).

Prime cattle slaughterings up in EU

In the EU, prime cattle slaughterings were up fractionally at 15.3 million head, but production fell by two per cent to 4.9 million tonnes. Whilst EU cow slaughterings rose by nearly four per cent, mainly in response to falling milk prices in 2008, cow beef production increased by just two per cent to 2.3 million tonnes. Cow beef accounted for 29 per cent of total beef and veal production in 2008.

Rise in cow beef production driven by UK

The rise in total EU cow beef production in 2008 was mainly driven by increased output in the UK. Production rose by nearly a quarter to 167,000 tonnes which was in contrast to reduced output in France and the Netherlands.

The results of the November / December census show more stability in the EU cattle herd than in previous years. Some Member States, notably France and the Netherlands have increased cattle numbers.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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