The number of cattle processed at NI factories is expected to finish 2021 at its highest level for 11 years.

For the year to the week ending 19 December, DAERA statistics show that 448,875 animals have been slaughtered at NI abattoirs.

That is an additional 722 (0.16%) cattle when compared to the same period in 2020.

Assuming this differential is maintained during the final two weeks of this year, the total number of cattle slaughtered is likely to finish around 462,000, making it the highest annual cattle kill since 2010 when 473,900 animals were processed.

Prime cattle

Increased factory throughput in 2021 is mainly due to higher prime cattle numbers and, in particular, steers and young bulls. Fewer heifers have been slaughtered in 2021.

Approximately 83% of males continue to be finished as steers.

The total prime cattle kill is likely to finish 2021 above 345,000 for the first time since 2011.


In contrast, the cow kill is currently lower year on year, with final numbers for 2021 projected to be around 104,000 head. That is down slightly on the 104,506 from 2020, but is still the second-highest annual cow kill on record.


The DAERA statistics also show that the annual sheep kill is likely to finish the year around 457,000, which would be well below the 466,651 from last year.

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