The sales value of the 2020-born progeny in Newford Herd, located in Athenry, Co Galway, averaged over €200/head higher than the previous year and a similar figure above the average of the last seven years.

The average sales value across 38 bullocks and 56 heifers slaughtered in the second half of 2021 was €1,483 per head.

The batch of 38 bullocks sold for an average of €1,611 per head, which represents an average increase of €222 per head.

The increase in the sales value was driven primarily by the average beef price of €4.51/kg rising by 55c/kg, while a 7kg higher average carcase weight of 357kg had a marginal influence.

The slaughter performance of the bullocks in terms of carcase conformation, fat score and kill out was similar to previous years.

As detailed in Table 1, the majority of bullocks graded R, with six grading U- and two grading O+.

Table 2 details slaughter performance recorded and analysed by Michael Fagan, Teagasc, since the project began. The fat score has been recorded at 3- in the last two years, while the kill out was recorded at 54%.

The final draft of 22 bullocks and three heifers were slaughtered on 17 December. This batch of bullocks included a mixture of lighter/plainer-quality bullocks (included the two O+ grading animals) and heavier lots which were retained for longer to reach a sufficient fat cover, with carcase weights ranging from 321kg to 410kg.

The average base price was €4.35/kg, with all animals recording a fat score of 2+ or better and receiving the 20c/kg quality payment scheme (QPS) bonus. Bullocks were finished on ad-lib silage along with 7kg of a high-energy 12% crude protein ration offered daily.

Heifer performance

As can also be seen in Table 1, the heifers recorded a similar slaughter profile to the bullocks, with the majority grading R grade and again weighted more towards R= and R- grades.

After two years of recording an average carcase weight of 299kg, heifers finally exceeded the 300kg mark with a 12kg higher average carcase weight of 311kg. This contributed to the higher sales value, but similar to bullocks, the €208 increase in sales value was underpinned by a 52c/kg increase in the average beef price received.

As detailed in Table 3, the average heifer beef price in 2021 was €4.49/kg, with heifers again finished at a young age of just 20 months.

The majority of heifers were finished off grass, with 18 heifers from the batch of 58 housed on 24 October and finished on ad-lib silage, along with 6kg concentrates split into two daily feeds.

Cow slaughter performance

The last four cull cows were also drafted for slaughter on 17 December and recorded an average carcase weight of 344kg, with two cows killing in the region of 310kg carcase and two at approximately 375kg. The average price received was €3.84/kg.

Table 4 details the slaughter performance of the 13 cull cows sent for slaughter in 2021. The carcase weight was 26kg higher than in 2020 and was boosted by the fact that there were no first calvers available to cull in 2021.

The average beef price received was 52c/kg higher than in 2020 and combined with the heavier carcase weight, it resulted in the average sale price of the cows increasing by €253 to €1,243.