More prime cattle, fewer cows in GB

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

The latest cattle population figures from the British Cattle Movement Service showed further growth in the number of cattle in GB.

On the 1 April, there were 7.8 million cattle and calves on British holdings, up 0.6% (45,000 head) from the same point a year ago.

The number of dairy and beef female cattle over two years old (an indication of the size of the breeding herd) stood at 3.2 million head, a further contraction of 1.2% year-on-year (-39,000 head). Dairy females shrunk in number by a further 1.6%, while beef females contracted by 0.8%.

The number of prime animals (heifers, steers and young bulls aged between 12-30 months) in the country stood at 1.6 million head, up 4% versus the same point a year ago.

All cattle types increased in number, with beef females up 3% (+20,000 head), beef males up 4% (+30,000 head), and dairy males up 7% (+8,000 head).

Graph showing number of prime cattle in GB by quarter up to 1 April 2022

The number of animals aged 12 months and below stood at 2.5 million head, largely stable (+0.3%) versus the 1 April 2021. The number of dairy males decreased further, down 13% (22,600 head) year-on-year, with decline particularly concentrated in the under 6-month group. This was not enough to offset increases in the number of dairy females (+16,500 head), nor beef types (+14,000 head).

Graph showing year-on-year change at 1 April 22 in GB cattle population by age and type

Based on these figures, and as reported in our Agri Market Outlook, we expect that more prime cattle will come forward during the second half of 2022. Prime cattle numbers have been tighter so far in 2022 versus a year ago, underpinning the strength seen in finished prices. Indeed, our estimated slaughter for the last couple of weeks has shown more cattle forward versus a year ago, with average prices holding steady for several weeks. However, decisions made on-farm around cost of production and mitigating high input costs will of course be the ultimate decider of future supplies.

Sign up for regular updates

You can subscribe to receive Beef and Lamb market news straight to your inbox. Simply fill in your contact details on our online form.

Visit the Keep in touch page

While AHDB seeks to ensure that the information contained on this webpage is accurate at the time of publication, no warranty is given in respect of the information and data provided. You are responsible for how you use the information. To the maximum extent permitted by law, AHDB accepts no liability for loss, damage or injury howsoever caused or suffered (including that caused by negligence) directly or indirectly in relation to the information or data provided in this publication.

All intellectual property rights in the information and data on this webpage belong to or are licensed by AHDB. You are authorised to use such information for your internal business purposes only and you must not provide this information to any other third parties, including further publication of the information, or for commercial gain in any way whatsoever without the prior written permission of AHDB for each third party disclosure, publication or commercial arrangement. For more information, please see our Terms of Use and Privacy Notice or contact the Director of Corporate Affairs at  © Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. All rights reserved.