UK beef production lower in June

Thursday, 15 July 2021

A total of 72,000 tonnes of beef and veal was produced in the UK during June, 8% lower compared to the same month a year ago, according to Defra figures.

This was mostly driven by a fall in cow slaughter, with numbers down 21% from the same month a year ago.

Adult cattle

A total of 44,600 cows were slaughtered during June, a 12,100 head decline year-on-year. We should bear in mind that cow slaughter in June 2020 was 24% higher than the previous five-year average off the back of strong retail demand. The June 2021 figure is closer to previous years, although still down 8% compared to June 2019.

Adult bull slaughter stood at 1,500 head, down 12% year-on-year.

Cow carcase weights during June averaged 315.5kg, 1% heavier year-on-year, while adult bulls were on average 4% heavier at 503.2kg.

For the first six months of the year, cow slaughter reached 298,100 head, 4% lower compared to the same period a year ago.

Prime cattle

Prime cattle kill was also lower during June, reaching 163,300 head, 4% less than numbers slaughtered in June 2020. Within this, young bull slaughter remained relatively unchanged (+0.3%) at 20,900 head. Steer kill fell by 7% year-on-year to 78,000 head, while heifer kill was down 2% at 64,400 head.

Looking at average carcase weights during June, steers and heifers were slightly lighter than they were in June last year, at 360.4kg and 326.6kg, respectively. Young bulls were on average 2% heavier year-on-year, at 356.7kg.

The June slaughter figures brought total UK prime cattle slaughter for the first six months of the year to 995,700 head, down 3% on the same period a year ago.

Beef production

Lower cattle slaughter, combined with relatively stable prime cattle carcase weights, resulted in total UK beef production for the first half of 2021 of 447,100 tonnes, down 3% from the same period a year ago.


At the end of July AHDB will be releasing its next Agri-Market Outlook, which will explore what beef production, consumption and trade could look like for the rest of 2021 and into 2022.

Image of staff member Hannah Clarke

Hannah Clarke

Senior Analyst (Red Meat)

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