Cattle registrations drop 5%
Published:  16 July, 2013

There has been a 5% decline in cattle since the start of 2013, figures from the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) show.

There has also been a reduction in carcase weights throughout the UK, and in Scotland carcases have been around 5kg lighter than last year.

Head of economic services at Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) Stuart Ashworth said: “With 2012 calvings little changed from 2011, and in fact lower in the second half of the year, this continued decline in the first half of 2013 leads to the conclusion that GB cattle supplies will not increase any time soon. This continued trend will not be welcome news for processors and retailers.”

Ashworth commented that it is positive that steaks and roasting joints will be smaller, which could potentially result in customers being more attracted to them.

“The conundrum for the abattoir and retail sector is the balance between attractive sizes of steaks and roasting joints for consumers and the demand for mince and diced product along with a volume of cattle to maximise the efficiency of the slaughter and processing lines.”

Culling among cows and mature bulls is also influencing beef supply and, in May, UK cow slaughterings were 4% lower than last year. However, the numbers are 5% higher over the year so far.

“One would like to think that this change in May could be the starting point of change towards stabilisation or an increase in the breeding cow herd. However, the weather-induced earlier culling may simply mean a rescheduling of culling rather than a change in total breeding herd numbers,” said Ashworth.

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