Cattle numbers decline in Great Britain

Friday, 15 November 2019

By Duncan Wyatt

The GB cattle population as at 1 October fell compared to last year, according to the latest data from the British Cattle Movement Service.

The number of cattle available for prime beef production in the short term (dairy males and beef animals of either sex), between the ages of 12 and 30 months, is 46,800 head lower than at the same point last year. Looking further ahead, the number of these cattle under 12 months of age is 15,900 head lower.

Although these figures imply lower beef production in the next year or two, much will depend on any changes in the size of the breeding herd over that time. If the breeding herd continues to fall, as it has been, then fewer replacements will be required and this will support beef production. If the herd stabilises, then the reduction in the number of younger cattle coming through, will feed through to lower beef production. This all assumes stable carcase weights, and 2019 has shown how important these can be on the balance of supply and demand.

For more information on the prospects for UK beef production, we will shortly be publishing our new cross sector outlook, followed by the regular updates to our cattle and sheep forecasts.

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