The continuing stabilisation of the national beef supply base over the past year is confirmed by 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 just under 2.63 million calves were registered with BCMS between August 2010 and July 2011. This is around 20,000 head up on the previous year and over 65,000 more than 2008/9, bringing annual registrations almost back up to the level of 2007/8.
Of the calves registered in the past year, around 470,000 were pure-bred dairy heifers, leaving nearly 2.16 million calves available for the beef industry – a rise of over 46,000 (2%) on the low of just over 2.11 million recorded in 2008/9.
Dairy-sired calf numbers fell back slightly on the previous year, a sharp fall in male registrations more than cancelling out a further annual rise in dairy heifers which may be related to the increasing use of sexed semen. Almost certainly reflecting the extent to which higher feed prices have affected pure-bred bull beef viability, the relative figures suggest more than 100,000 dairy bull calves may have been lost to the beef industry last year.
Limousins remain by far the most widely used beef sire, continuing to record more than double the registrations of the next most popular breed. A continued decline in Charolais breeding (-3% on the year) coupled with a marked acceleration in the popularity of the Aberdeen Angus (+6%) puts these breeds neck and neck in second place. Simmentals, British Blues and Herefords also experienced noticeable year-on-year registration growth.
Among the less widely-used beef breeds, Salers, Montbeliardes, Luings, Beef Shorthorns, Lincoln Reds, Dexters and Longhorns all saw increases of more than 5% in their annual registrations, most on top of clear increases in previous years.
BCMS Birth Registrations in Great Britain - 2009/10 and 2010/11
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