Cattle supplies constrict UK beef production in August

Thursday, 16 September 2021

A total of 73,200 tonnes of beef and veal was produced in the UK in August, similar to what was produced in July and 2% lower compared to the same month a year ago according to Defra figures.

During the month, 159,700 prime cattle were slaughtered, 3% (4,400 head) fewer than a year ago. Within this, steer slaughter fell by 3% to 78,600 head, heifer kill fell by 2% to 63,800 head, and young bull kill fell by 3% to 17,400 head. Slaughter of cull cows remained stable at 54,400 head.

Average UK prime cattle carcase weights generally increased in August year-on-year. Steers averaged 360kg (+1.2kg), heifers averaged 325kg (+0.3kg), and young bulls averaged 356kg (+4.9kg). Cull cows were on average 1.6kg lighter at 305kg.

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What’s the picture for the year so far?

For the year-to-date (Jan-Aug), UK beef production stood at 593,000 tonnes, 4% lower than the same period a year ago. Prime cattle slaughter totalled 1.32 million head, down 4%, while cow kill stood at 402,300 head, down 5%.

These figures are largely in-line with our latest forecast. Cow kill typically picks up towards the end of the year as the winter housing period draws closer, and so we may yet see more animals come forward. It will be interesting to see what influence current record high cow prices and high feed costs may have on slaughter decisions heading into winter.

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Image of staff member Hannah Clarke

Hannah Clarke

Analyst - Livestock

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