The past year has seen an interesting turn-round in the declining trend of both overall calf births and number of calves available for beef production in Great Britain, according to the latest British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) data analysed by EBLEX, the industry body for beef and lamb levy-payers in England.
A total of 2.61 million calves were registered with BCMS between August 2009 and July 2010. Of these, just under 460,000 were pure-bred dairy heifers, leaving around 2.15 million calves available for the beef industry. This is an increase in annual beef calf availability of over 37,000 (2%) on 2008/9, reversing the marked downward trend of recent years.
Despite the continued decline in national dairy cow numbers, over 36,000 more dairy-sired calves were registered in the year, with a rise of nearly 30,000 bull calf registrations showing a growing use of pure-bred dairy bulls in the beef sector. At the same time, the figures show an increase of almost 8,000 in beef-sired calves. This contrasts with year-on-year declines of over 135,000 and 45,000 head in 2009 and 2008 respectively.
Limousin breeding continues to dominate the industry, being responsible for more than double the registrations of the next most popular breed, the Charolais.
Despite the increase in overall beef sire use however, both Limousin and Charolais registrations fell back slightly over the year, as did Hereford and Blonde d’Aquitaine usage. In contrast, amongst the most popular beef breeds, Aberdeen Angus posted further gains, with a notable upturn in Belgian (now British) Blue registrations.
A marked rise was, once again, evident in calf registrations from other beef breeds, the bulk of this coming from the Montbeliarde, Saler, Beef Shorthorn, Stabiliser, Brown Swiss, Devon, Lincoln Red and Luing breeds.
BCMS Birth Registrations in Great Britain - 2008/9 and 2009/10
* Total births excluding purebred dairy heifers
Brecon and Radnor Suckled Calf Rearers' Farm Walk
British Blondes Shine at Athy
Blelack Heifer Tops St Boswells Best of Blacks at 15,000gns