GB cattle population shrinks

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

By Duncan Wyatt

The GB cattle population as at 1 January 2020 fell compared to last year, according to the latest data from the British Cattle Movement Service.

The number of cattle available for prime beef production in the short term (dairy males and beef animals of either sex), between the ages of 12 and 30 months, was 57,300 head lower (-3.1%) than at the same point last year. Looking further ahead, the number of these cattle under 12 months of age is 21,000 head lower (-1.1%).

These figures imply lower beef production in the next year or two. How much lower will also depend on carcase weights, and any changes in the size of the breeding herd over that time. If the breeding herd continues to fall, as it has been, then fewer replacements will be required and this will support beef production.

As seen in October’s data, the GB breeding herd (females over thirty months) also contracted. As at 1 January there were 1.491m dairy cows, 3.1% lower (47,800 head) year on year, and 1.437m beef cows, 1.8% lower (26,300 head).


For more information on the prospects for UK beef production, read our cattle forecast.

Duncan Wyatt

Lead Analyst - Red Meat

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