Following the lifting of the beef export ban in May 2006, nearly
76,000 mainly dairy-bred calves have travelled to the Continent – predominantly
to the Netherlands, Belgium and France – reveals the latest
analysis of British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) records by the
English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX).
The records also show GB cattle passport applications
totalling 2.77 million in 2006 – up more than 18,000 (or
nearly 1%) on the previous year, although still some 175,000 per
year down on 2003 and 2004 levels.
Examination of the monthly figures for 2006 indicates the sharp
annual decline in calf registrations evident in 2005 continued
for the first three months of the year. This, however, was followed
by an increase of over 53,000 (2.5%) from April to December as
first the prospect then the reality of renewed live exports boosted
The importance of the export trade is underlined by the recovery
in Friesian/Holstein bull calf prices at auction recorded by MLC
from last April.
Weak demand from the Continental veal trade towards the end of
the year and into the beginning of 2007 has been a significant
factor in the more recent decline in dairy bull calf prices to
only just over £20/head. Even at this level, though, they
remained significantly higher than last spring.
This and the confidence the re-opened export market has provided
the industry is reflected in early 2007 registration data indicating
a continuing year-on-year increase in passport applications.
Strong domestic market fundamentals, with a projected 3% decline
in annual slaughterings, continued growth in consumption and a
stabilising of imports at below 2005 levels, look likely to ensure
the very much firmer UK beef market of 2006 continues through the
coming year. Especially so in view of the increasing deficit of
manufacturing grade beef, in particular, across the European Union.
The extent to which this feeds through to dairy calf demand will,
of course, depend on the economics of bull beef finishing which
is certainly not being helped by this season’s high cereal
prices. Even so, it is to be hoped that prime cattle prices a consistent
10p/kg deadweight or more higher than this time last year will
provide sufficient encouragement for more dairy farmers to keep
more surplus pure-bred bull calves for rearing in 2007, further
reducing the national wastage of early disposal.
Spring Spectacular Calf Show at Beef Expo 2007
is UK's Largest Numerical Cattle Breed
Notebook for Beef Producers - EBLEX