The last of the 2019-born bullocks and heifers destined for slaughter on Newford Farm were drafted on 17 December.

The draft included nine bullocks and two heifers, leaving just two lighter bullocks (weighing 474kg liveweight) and one lighter heifer (450kg liveweight), which are likely to be either sold live in spring or finished off grass.

The nine bullocks weighed 676kg liveweight pre-slaughter and, with a kill-out percentage of 55%, achieved an average carcase weight of 363kg.

Average grades

The average grade of the bullocks, aged 22 months old, was R+3= and the average sale price was recorded at €1,542, with all animals satisfying quality payment system (QPS) specifications.

The batch of bullocks were housed on 2 October on a finishing diet of ad-lib silage and 6kg of a high-energy 12% crude protein ration.

The bullocks were also receiving concentrate supplementation for a month prior to housing at grass, bringing the total volume fed over the 15 weeks to 572kg, or €149 worth of meal at a price of €260/t.

Performance analysis carried out by Michael Fagan of Teagasc shows the bullocks gaining 1.1kg over the 76-day indoor finishing period.

Heifer performance

The two heifers were among the heaviest slaughtered in 2020.

They weighed 618kg live, killed out at 56% and achieved an average carcase weight of 344kg.

They graded R+3+ and, as such, achieved a 6c/kg top-up, along with the 20c/kg QPS in-spec bonus. The average sale value was €1,427.

The heifers were finished on ad-lib silage and 5kg concentrates with meal feeding commencing at grass on 4 September, while heifers enjoyed a longer grazing season than bullocks and were housed on 27 October.

2020 slaughter performance

The performance of all cattle slaughtered in 2020 has been analysed by Michael Fagan and is detailed in Table 1.

Bullocks achieved the same carcase weight of 350kg as in 2019.

There was a slight difference in kill-out, which was 1% lower in 2020, while the carcase grade was slightly lower at R-3- compared with R+3= in 2019.

The two most significant differences were positive for the herd, with the average sale price 20c/kg higher, which increased the average sale value by €70 per head.

The 2020 batch of bullocks were also finished a month earlier.

The total volume of concentrates consumed per head was recorded at 350kg, which was a significant reduction on the average volume of a little over 500kg per head in 2019.

The slaughter performance of heifers also unusually recorded a similar carcase weight of 299kg over the 58 animals slaughtered.

The carcase grade of R=3= was also the same, with the 2020 batch of heifers killing out 1% higher.

It remains a challenge to finish heifers predominately off grass and exceed an average carcase weight of 300kg.

The average sale price was 23c/kg higher in 2020 or almost €69 per head.

Heifers were finished about a week earlier on average in 2020, while the volume of meal consumed during the finishing phase was just 162kg, with a large percentage of heifers finished off grass alone.