The GB cattle population has continued to fall, according to the latest data from the British Cattle Movement Service. At 1 April, the GB population totalled 7.99 million head, a 2% (140,000 head) decline compared to last year.
Beef cattle and dairy males between 12 and 30 months, an indicator of short-term beef supplies, are down slightly on last year (-0.2%).
As a large proportion of these animals are expected to enter the market within the next 12 months, we expect that prime slaughters likely to be a little lower than last year, with numbers beginning to tighten mid-year.
Looking at longer-term supplies, the number of cattle under 12 months is down by 2% compared to last year. The majority of the drop comes from animals aged between 6-12 months.
This is not surprising considering the challenging conditions last spring, which resulted in fewer births and higher on-farm mortality. As a result, we expect that the supplies could continue to be tighter until the latter half of 2020.
In the group of cattle aged up to 6 months, there is a large drop in the number of overall dairy animals born. In particular, there has been a large drop in the number of dairy males, with nearly 15,000 fewer on the ground in April than in last year.
This is likely a result of the changing shifts in dairy inseminations towards sexed semen. There was also a lift in the number of beef animals under 6 months. Again, likely a reflection the move towards putting dairy cows to a beef sire.