Fewer cattle have been processed at local abattoirs during 2023 when compared to the previous year.

Data recorded by DAERA shows that from 1 January to the week ending 18 November, 424,585 cattle were processed, down 5.6% or 25,607 head compared to the same period in 2022.

The difference is partially inflated by strike action in early November, although in the week prior to the strike, the 2023 kill trailed the equivalent 2022 figure by more than 15,000 head, or 4%.

Despite factories handling fewer animals year on year, the 2023 kill is still on track to be the second highest on record.

Prime cattle

The number of prime cattle processed in 2023 comes to 314,304 head, which is below the 333,980 animals processed last year, but significantly ahead of the 307,730 from 2021.

Steer numbers have fallen by more than 14,000 head during 2023 with heifers down 4,000. In contrast, the young bull kill is up by 1,400 head.


The cow kill is also lower with 99,492 animals processed in 2023, down from 104,179 last year, but still well ahead of the 90,936 cows slaughtered in 2021.


The sheep kill is running higher year on year with 438,771 animals processed compared to 415,692 head last year.

That puts the 2023 kill for the year to date at its highest level since 2015.

Sheep exported to abattoirs in the Republic of Ireland have totalled 290,308, down from 296,270 over the same period last year.

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