UK beef production 2% higher in 2019

Friday, 17 January 2020

By Jennie Tanner

Now Defra has published December data, we can take a look at beef production for the whole of 2019. Beef and veal production for the year totalled 914,400 tonnes, a 2% increase compared to the previous year. Much of this increase has been driven by the increase in carcase weights seen during the year.

In 2019, total prime slaughter was slightly higher (0.8%) than in 2018 reaching 2.01 million head. Steer and young bull slaughterings were down by 1,200 head (-0.1%) and 7,900 head (-3.9%) respectively, offset by a notable increase in heifer slaughterings, up 24,200 head (3.1%). This follows the same trend as 2018 and will continue to impact on the future breeding herd.

The average carcase weight for 2019 was just under 345.5kg, over 4kg heavier than the previous year. This is likely due to the far better grass growing conditions in 2019 as mentioned throughout the year.

Cow slaughter in 2019 was slightly lower than 2018, down by 1.4% (-9,200 head). This probably reflects a balancing in the breeding herd after high cow slaughterings in 2017 and 2018. Grazing was also readily available during 2019 and the milk price was relatively steady, reducing the drive to rationalise herds.

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