Market report: June census figures point to tight supplies

Q Latest figures from DEFRA’s June census for England point to further tight supplies of beef and sheep, helping to underpin the market for 2010, but a recovery in the number of breeding pigs.

Total cattle numbers were unchanged in the 12 months to June, at 5.48m. But the well-publicised contraction in the breeding herd is demonstrated by the 2% reduction in beef cow numbers to 735,000 head, as a result of high heifer slaughterings.

According to EBLEX, this reflects the “strong prices and low confidence in future profitability”.

Dairy cow numbers have also dropped by 3% over the year, for much the same reasons, though there is an encouraging increase in dairy heifer numbers, due to more inseminations.

The census points to an even steeper drop in sheep numbers, with the total flock down 4.6% to 14.83m head, and breeding ewes down 6.3% to 6.59m.

In contrast, breeding pig numbers have increased by 5.5% to 432,000 head. “The results are a welcome indication that the industry is recovering from the feed crisis during 2007 and 2008,” said a BPEX statement.

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