Cattle supplies in the UK appear to be holding steady in the first half of the year.
The number of cattle in the first six months of 2004 were broadly similar to 2003 levels at 1.08 million head, reported Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board.
Steer supplies remained unchanged while heifer throughput showed a fall of 4%.
However young bulls were up by 12%, reflecting the higher retention of dairy male calves in 2003 for beef production.
In the meantime, according to data from TNS, retail sales of fresh and frozen beef remained stable throughout the same period, although expenditure levels were around 5% higher than the same period last year.
The strongest growth was in processed beef, which showed an average rise in purchases of 8% across all products.