Data obtained from the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) shows that suckler-bred males are generally 20kg to 30kg heavier at slaughter and finished around one month earlier, than counterparts out of a dairy cow.

The differences in performance at slaughter are greater when the main continental beef breeds of Limousin and Charolais are used (see Table 1).

In 2023, suckler-bred Limousin steers averaged 387kg at 25.7 months, compared to those out of dairy cows, which averaged 357kg at 26.9 months. Suckler-bred Charolais steers were finished at 397kg at 25.2 months, compared to those out of dairy cows, which averaged 371kg at 26.1 months.

The differences across Angus and Hereford-bred steers are slightly less pronounced, although Angus out of sucklers were still 24kg heavier and finished over a month earlier than dairy-bred counterparts. Hereford steers out of sucklers were also 24kg more at slaughter.

Young bulls

Slightly wider gaps in performance are seen across young bulls, with Charolais and Limousin bulls out of a suckler cow 30kg and 46kg heavier at slaughter than those out of dairy cows. Suckler-bred Angus and Hereford young bulls averaged 27kg more.

However, Angus and Hereford heifers out of sucklers were only 7kg to 8kg more at slaughter than dairy crosses from the same sire breed, while for Limousin and Charolais heifers out of sucklers, they were over 20kg ahead of beef x dairy counterparts.

Cull cows

Across 2023 the average weight of cull cows at slaughter was 297.2kg, with this figure dragged down by the number of dairy cows slaughtered out of the parlour.

The LMC data shows that Angus and Hereford-bred cows averaged 325kg and 326kg respectively at slaughter last year, with Limousin cows at 336kg and Charolais the heaviest, at 354kg.

The data also suggests Limousin and Charolais cows last longer on farms, with the average age at slaughter around 110 months (9.2 years), compared to Angus cows at 90.3 months (7.5 years) and Hereford at 83.7 months (seven years).