The number of cattle drafted from controlled finishing units (CFUs) and slaughtered in EU-approved slaughter plants jumped in October to 43,000 head.

This is an increase of 10,500 from October levels and brings total numbers of cattle drafted for the year to date from CFUs to 378,500 head.

This kill figure equates to almost 23% of the overall beef kill in both October and for the year to date – ie more than two out of every 10 cattle killed originated from CFUs.

Drafting of cattle from CFUs started the year strongly, with numbers running ahead of 2022 levels before dropping back in recent months.

There has been significant growth in the number of cattle originating from controlled finishing units in recent years, as detailed in Table 1.

The number of cattle originating from CFUs comprised approximately 16.4% of the kill in 2018, 16.6% in 2019 and 2020, 20% in 2021 and almost 23% in 2022.

This is due in large part to an increase in the number of holdings not categorised as CFUs, with between 380 and 400 holdings possessing this status.

CFU operations

CFUs are often referred to as feedlots due to the fact that they were previously known as such.

Their name changed to reflect the wider nature of farming systems covered with such holdings differentiated by the fact that they are restricted under the bovine TB eradication programme and as such have to follow certain conditions.

Farms designated as CFUs are holdings which operate a specialised finishing system and do not deliberately possess any breeding animals. All animals on the holding can only leave the farm for direct slaughter and in the eyes of the Department must pose a low risk to surrounding herds.

For example, boundaries must prevent any contact with neighbouring livestock with double fencing, etc, put in place.

TB testing must take place periodically, but herds are not eligible for TB compensation. CFUs can purchase animals without restriction and can purchase animals from herds with restricted movements.