Beef cow census numbers rise belies likely drop in beef production

Breeding beef, pig and ewe numbers in England increased in DEFRA’s June census, but dairy cow numbers declined by nearly 3% following high levels of culling.

The number of beef cows increased by 0.4%, but total cattle numbers fell by 2.3%, to 5.4 million. “With more than half of domestic beef production coming from dairy sired animals in the longer term it is likely that beef production will decline,” said a report by AHDB Meat Services.

Confidence in the sheep industry was evident, with record prices for finished animals and better returns from wool encouraging further rebuilding of the national flock. “Overall the number of sheep and lambs on commercial holdings was up nearly 1%, driven by a near 2% expansion in breeding ewe numbers.” The number of ewe lambs retained for first time breeding increased by 6%, following an 11% jump last year.

Overall pig numbers eased marginally, but the number of breeding pigs rose by more than 2%, driven by an 8% jump in gilts in pig, a 6% rise in other sows and a 3% increase in maiden gilts. The number of fattening pigs fell by 0.5%.


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