UK beef and veal production increased to 69,700t in February – a 2% increase on last year. Although prime cattle throughputs were virtually unchanged on the year at 155,000 head, improved finishing conditions meant carcass weights were heavier, said a report by EBLEX.

“This meant prime beef production was up 1% on the year, at 53,700t.”

Prime cattle throughputs in England and Wales increased by 1% on the year, with those in Scotland falling by 3% and Northern Ireland broadly unchanged. “Continuing recent trends, heifer throughputs were up 2%,” said the report. “With the exception of December, heifer numbers have been above the previous year’s levels since April last year. This sustained increase could indicate a reduction in the number of females being retained for breeding in the UK.”

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Steer numbers were once again lower on the year, falling by 1% with bull slaughterings also falling overall. Adult cattle slaughterings fell by 1%, with cow beef production up by 4% to 15,600t, said the report. “Cow carcass weights were significantly up on the year, as improved farmgate prices and lower cereals prices may have encouraged producers to add some finish to cows.”