Beef supplies on the rise in England

A combination of higher production from prime cattle and cows, as well as increased imports, means that beef supplies in 2016 are going to be up on last year, according to the latest AHDB forecast. 

According to the forecast, the impact of higher calf registrations over the past couple of years will certainly be felt later this year and into 2017, while prime cattle slaughterings are forecast to be in the region of 1.96 million head this year and could top two million head next year.

On the back of good feed supplies and reduced cereal prices, producers have been encouraged to retain dairy-bred male animals for finishing this year. However, more of these are expected to have been castrated and finished as steers, because of the increasing challenges for the young bull trade, a development that looks set to continue.

Debbie Butcher, AHDB MI senior analyst, said: “Given the bigger dairy herd and the difficulties in the sector, significantly more cows are expected to come forward over the course of the year. In addition, the well-documented profitability challenges that the beef sector has faced for some time are expected to continue, plus falling levels of CAP support could well put pressure on beef cow numbers. Consequently, adult cattle slaughterings this year have been revised up from earlier estimates to 670,000 head.”

Increased slaughterings of both prime and adult cattle are expected to be mitigated by lower carcase weights, as finishers respond to the processor and retailer focus on specification. However, beef and veal production this year is still forecast to be up almost 3% on the year at almost 910,000 tonnes.

Butcher added: “If, as expected, the pound remains weaker, export levels are likely increase this year. UK commodity-type products, in particular, should be able to compete better on the Continent. Taking this into account, exports are forecast to be up on the lower levels of last year, broadly in line with the increase in output and accounting for over 15% of production.”

She said that the Irish market would continue to impact beef in England. “From an import perspective, developments in Ireland will, as always, have the greatest impact. The upward trend in Irish calf registrations, combined with fewer live exports last year, means the number of cattle available for slaughter is expected to be up on last year. Beef and veal production is certainly going to be higher and a proportion of this increased production is likely to be available to the UK market.”

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