Higher cow kill boosts beef production in March

Thursday, 14 April 2022

The latest Defra UK slaughter figures tell us how many animals were processed in March, and for the first quarter of 2022.

Cow numbers increased compared to a year ago, up 10% at 57,500 head. While a large year-on-year change, numbers were only up 2% compared to 2020. Record prices for cull cows will likely have encouraged more animals forward, as will have rising input costs.

Average cow carcase weights were lighter compared to both February, and March 2021. The March kill figures outweighed lower kill in January and February, bringing total cow kill for the first quarter of 2022 to 161,100 head, up 2% year-on-year. However, this was 3% less than the same period in 2020.

During the same month, 174,700 prime cattle were processed in the UK, 10% more than in February, but 1% fewer than in March 2021. Average finished cattle carcase weights continued to be marginally heavier versus a year ago, potentially with finishers wanting to make the most of record cattle prices.

For the first quarter of 2022, UK prime cattle kill stood at 485,400 head, 4% lower than the same period a year ago.

This brought overall beef production for the month to 79,500 tonnes, 9% more than February, and 1% more than the same month a year ago. For the first three months of the year, production totalled 223,400 tonnes, down 2% year-on-year.

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