GB cattle herd 1% smaller at 1 January

Monday, 1 March 2021

The total number of cattle on the ground in Great Britain declined again in January, according to population data from the British Cattle Movement Service.

At 1 January 2021, there were 7.7 million cattle in Great Britain, down 1% (115,800 head) from the same point a year ago.

Within this, the number of all cattle under 30 months of age fell by 1% (39,500 head) to 4.7 million head. The number of dairy and beef cows over 30 months of age contracted by 2% to 2.9 million head.


Prime cattle supplies

Short-term supplies of prime cattle (dairy males and beef cattle of both sexes aged 12-30 months, accounting for suckler replacements) tightened again, with 5% (81,900 head) fewer animals recorded at 1 January 2021 year-on-year. This continues the trend seen over the past year, and is supportive of our latest beef forecast. All groups recorded lower numbers year-on-year; beef females by -3%, beef males by -4%, and dairy males by -20%.

Looking forward, the number of animals available for beef production under 12 months of age (dairy males and beef cattle of both sexes, accounting for replacements) rose by 2% on the year to 2.2 million head. Numbers of dairy females rose by 5%, while beef females and males both rose by 2%. Dairy males continued to contract in number, down 3% year-on-year.

Cow numbers

The number of dairy and beef cows over 30 months of age both contracted by 2% year-on-year. This follows a long-term trend of decline for both herds. However, the number of dairy females under 12 months old has been in annual growth since January 2020, which may signal some stabilisation in the future dairy herd.

Hannah Clarke

Analyst - Livestock

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