GB cattle herd continues to shrink

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Numbers of cattle on the ground in Great Britain continued to be tighter year-on-year at 1 July, according to the latest data from the British Cattle Movement Service. The total number of cattle (all types) under 30 months of age was down by around 67,500 head (-1%) on last July, while the breeding herd (dairy and beef females over 30 months) contracted by slightly more.

Prime cattle supplies

Supplies of prime cattle available for beef production in the short-term (dairy males and beef animals of both sexes, accounting for suckler replacements) aged between 12-30 months were down 76,500 head (-4%) year-on-year.

The majority of this decline was in numbers of beef males (-34,200 head), with dairy male numbers down 24,500 head and beef females down 17,800 head year-on-year.

The lower numbers have stemmed from the poor calving season of 2018.

Looking further ahead, the number of animals available for beef production under 12 months of age is steady compared to last year. A rise in the number of beef animals has offset a fall in dairy male numbers. In part, this is a reflection of the increased usage of sorted semen in the dairy industry.

Breeding herd

Both the dairy and suckler herds contracted in July, resulting in the total breeding herd being 76,400 head (-3%) lower than a year ago. The number of dairy cows fell by 52,700 head (-3%), while suckler cows fell by 23,700 head (-2%). This follows a long-term period of steady decline in both herds.

Hannah Clarke

Analyst - Livestock

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