Contraction continues in GB cattle numbers

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

The population of cattle in Great Britain declined by a further 0.8% in July, according to the latest data from the British Cattle Movement Service.

At 1 July, there were 7.98 million cattle on the ground in GB, 62,800 head fewer than the same point a year ago. This maintains the trend seen in GB cattle numbers over the past 3 years, being the 15th consecutive set of quarterly figures that show a year-on-year decline.

Within this, the breeding herd (dairy and beef females over 30 months old) stood at 2.81 million head, 2% smaller compared to 1 July 2020. The decline was evenly split between types, as both herds declined by around 31,000 head (-2%). The number of dairy females under 12 months old remains in annual growth, up 6% year-on-year at 1 July.

The number of cattle under 30 months of age rose slightly, by 0.2% to 5.07 million head. A 4% (39,000 head) increase in dairy female numbers outweighed declines in dairy males (-4%; -11,000 head), beef males (-0.8%; -14,000 head) and beef females (-0.3%; -6,000 head). This continues the trend seen in dairy youngstock numbers.

Prime cattle supplies

Short-term supplies of prime cattle (dairy males and beef cattle of both sexes aged 12-30 months, accounting for suckler herd replacements) declined by 2% (41,000 head) to 1.73 million head. All categories remained tighter; dairy males by 10% (12,000 head), beef males by 2% (19,000 head) and beef females by 1% (9,000 head).

Looking forward, the number of animals available for prime beef production under 12 months old (dairy males and beef cattle of both sexes, accounting for suckler replacements) increased by 0.6% year-on-year to 1.77 million head. All categories grew, with the majority coming from beef males and females (both +5,000 head). Dairy males increased by 0.4% in number, largely driven by higher numbers under 6 months old.

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Hannah Clarke

Senior Analyst (Red Meat)

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