October 14, 2008


English cattle numbers decreased 2 percent


According to the DEFRA provisional June 2008 census results, the English cattle herd has declined by two per cent on 2007 to just under 5.5 million head. According to a Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) bulletin, the total breeding herd showed a fall of just over two per cent at 1.95 million head.


The beef breeding herd also recorded a small reduction of one per cent to 750,000 head from 758,000 head. Commentators state that continued strong prices encourage producers to finish heifers for slaughter rather than retain them for breeding which, if sustained, will have an impact on supplies of cattle over the next two years.


The number of sheep recorded on farm in June 2008 was relatively stable compared with 2007. Following a reported three per cent decline in the breeding herd in the year to June 2007, there has been little change in the year to June 2008 at 6.9 million head, which is encouraging for future production.


The dairy breeding herd is experiencing an accelerated rate of decline (3 percent equating to 37,000 head) and this is expected to continue with reduced numbers of younger dairy females coming through the supply chain.


Figures from APHIS reveal that there are 21,700 cattle born before August 1996 on farms in Northern Ireland.


As the Older Cattle Disposal Scheme (OCDS) will come to an end on 31 December 2008, it would be impossible to slaughter this number of cattle through the scheme in the time remaining.


It is therefore concluded that producers have made the decision to run most of these animals to the end of their useful lives and to dispose of them through the fallen stock scheme at their own cost and without compensation.

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