Supplies of finished cattle look set to remain tight throughout the summer and autumn as the latest forecasts show fewer animals are on farms when compared to last year.
Published by the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC), the forecast shows a 1% drop in beef cattle between 24 and 30 months of age when compared to 2021.
Cattle between 18 and 24 months of age are down 1.1%, while animals over 30 months are up 0.4% year-on-year.
Beef sired male cattle are down 2.4% for animals between 24 and 30 months, as well as those in the 18 to 24 months category. Beef sired heifers are marginally lower, down 0.5% for 24 to 30 month old animals and 1% for 18 to 24 months.
Dairy sired male cattle are up 1.8% for 24 to 30 months and 4.1% on 18 to 24 months. However, this equates to a relatively small number of 587 extra cattle spread across both brackets.
LMC data also shows prime cattle prices averaged 426.3p/kg during May, up 46.5p/kg or 12.2% on the same month last year.
R3 steers averaged 436.5p/kg, up 47.1p/kg. This is similar to the 436.2p/kg paid in the Republic of Ireland but is short of the 445p/kg average in Britain.
Cull cow price averaged 337.9p/kg during May, which was up 61.7p/kg year-on-year with throughput up 18.6%, or 1,305 head.
Average carcase weight on cows was 305.3kg in May, down from 317.7kg last year. Prime cattle averaged 344.2kg deadweight, down 3kg on the previous year.
Factory pricesfor hoggets and lambs averaged 599.8p/kg during May, down 26p/kg from 2021 levels or £5.46/head on a 21kg carcase.
Throughput was up 3.7% with an average carcase weight of 22kg. Exports of NI sheep to abattoirs in Britain and the Republic of Ireland were up 6.1%, which is just over 1,000 head.