UK cattle supplies remain tighter in June

Thursday, 14 October 2021

According to the Defra June survey, the number of cattle and calves in the UK decreased by a further 1% year-on-year to 9.5 million. Declines were seen in the majority of cattle groupings.

The breeding herd stood at 3.3 million, 0.9% smaller than the same point a year ago. This was driven largely by contraction in suckler cow numbers, as the dairy herd showed a smaller rate of decline.

Looking at other cattle, the largest reductions were seen in the population of animals aged 2 years and over. Animals aged between 1-2 years old showed more modest changes, with males declining by 1.6%. Numbers of female cattle in the age group grew by 0.4%, largely driven by a rise in the number of dairy females, as beef females contracted slightly.

The number of cattle aged under 1 year old grew year-on-year, again mostly driven by increased numbers of dairy female youngstock. This aligns with recent GB data on calf registrations. Beef females posted a more modest increase. As in the English survey, male cattle are not split into dairy / beef types, however based on recent cattle population and registration data from BCMS it would be sensible to assume this rise was from beef-type cattle.

What could this mean for beef production?

The Defra UK data gives us a fuller picture of cattle numbers, but tells a similar story to the English data released the other week. Lower numbers of 2+ and 1-2 year old beef cattle agree with more frequent data from the BCMS, which suggests that beef production in 2022 may not see strong recovery. However, more animals aged under a year old could boost supplies somewhat, later on.

Image of staff member Hannah Clarke

Hannah Clarke

Senior Analyst (Red Meat)

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