GB cattle herd continues to contract

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

By Rebecca Wright

The GB cattle population at 1 April 2020 was smaller than at the same point in 2019, according to data from British Cattle Movement Service. The total number of cattle under 30 months was back by around 74,500 head. The number of adult cattle also fell.

Supply of prime cattle for kill

In the short term the number of prime cattle available for beef production (beef animals of both sexes and dairy males, allowing for suckler cow replacements) aged between 12 and 30 months is down by almost 75,000 head.

Looking a little further ahead the number under 12 months is up just over 3,000 head. Notable within the yearling age category is a decline in dairy males, but an uplift in beef types. In part, this is a reflection of the increased usage of sorted semen in the dairy industry.

Breeding herd

In the breeding herd there has been some contraction compared to April 2019. The number of dairy females over 30 months stands 49,000 head lower. It is a similar story with beef females over 30 months, down nearly 24,000 head on-the-year.

Should the trend for contraction in the breeding herds continue, then there could be some support for prime animal numbers. However, any production gains from a reduction in demand for replacements is unlikely to be enough to offset the overall decline in prime numbers.

Rebecca Wright

Analyst - Red Meat

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