UK Cattle population falls

Thursday, 26 March 2020

The UK total cattle and calf population was down 1.6% year on year on 1 December 2019, at 9.5 million head, according to the December census published by Defra.

The breeding herd, which accounts for just over a third of total cattle decreased in size, down 1.3% to 3.3 million head. This is in line with the expectations from the latest AHDB outlook. The beef breeding herd fell by 2.2% to 1.5 million head, and the dairy breeding herd fell to just under 1.9 million head (-0.6%).

The number of female beef and dairy cattle between 1 and 2 years was also down, by 1.9% and 0.9% respectively. This leaves fewer replacements to enter the breeding herd in the next year. The number of male cattle between 1 and 2 years was down even further, 4.9% less than the previous year, indicating a tightening in the supply of slaughter cattle.

The female animals under 1 year have seen a small increase of 0.7%, although last year’s data recorded lower than usual numbers.

Jennie Tanner

Analyst - Dairy & Livestock

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