UK cattle supply on a downward trend

By Melodie Michel

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Livestock Cattle Uk Beef Lamb Pork

UK cattle supply on a downward trend
UK cattle slaughterings dropped by 6% in the second half of 2011, mainly due to a reduction in young bull kill, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) has announced.

Deadweight cattle prices went down in January after a 349p/kg peak during the festive season, but at 342p/kg, the price of steers and heifers was still 16% higher than last year.

In the first half of 2011, UK abattoirs received 5% more prime cattle, but in H2 the contraction of the young bull kill was so strong that it brought the annual overall prime cattle supply down 1%.

In contrast, H2 cull cow slaughterings rose 14% year-on-year. “However, as the year-end approached there was a slowdown in the culling of mature animals, with November volumes traiing year earlier levels and weekly throughputs in December only slightly higher than a year ago. This, coupled with fewer retentions of heifers (...) indicates a future contraction of the UK cattle herd,”​ QMS said.

The situation was similar across the EU, with prices pushed up by tightened supply, and Irish cattle slaughterings down 4.5% in 2011. QMS explains this was an opportunity for UK exports, which rose 35% year-on-year for the January-to-November period with further consolidation in the Belgian, French and Irish markets, and noticeable growth in Sweden. The report adds: “However, trade with the Netherlands eased back while deliveries to Germany and Italy trailed earlier levels once again.”

UK lamb auction prices fell below £2/kg in January, after December slaughterings increased by 4,000 heads. In H2 2011, abattoirs received 230,000 more lambs than the year before. “Despite this increase, more than 60% of the increased lamb crop reported in the June census has yet to be marketed,”​ QMS added.

Pig prices in the country are currently 5% higher than at the same time last year, despite an increase in production. The report states: “With the June census showing just a 2% gain in the breeding herd, therefore, by implication, greater production has been fuelled by productivity gains.”

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