Finished cattle prices this winter should be underpinned by tight supplies, as the latest forecasts point to a 15.3% drop in the number of cattle aged between 18 and 24 months when compared to last year.

The data, compiled by the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC), are based on cattle standing on farm in September, destined for beef production.

In total there were 138,280 beef animals last month in the 18- to 24-month age bracket, down 24,896 year on year.

Of these, beef-sired males are down 19% year on year, which equates to just over 13,000 head, while beef sired heifers are down 16.4%, which is again a drop of just over 13,000.

Bucking the trend is male cattle originating from the dairy herd, with numbers running 1,400 head above 2020 levels.

Older cattle

The lower supply forecast for 18- to 24-month-old cattle is likely to impact on the beef trade early next year.

However, there were 10,000 more beef animals on farm in September aged between 24 and 30 months.

The majority of these are beef-sired heifers which are likely to be processed before the end of 2021.


Combining all the data shows that there were 15,468 fewer prime beef cattle aged over 18 months on farm in September 2021 when compared to the same month in the previous year.

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