2013-03-25 xml

Calf Registrations Marginally Higher In 2012

EBLEX analysis of calf data from the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) indicates that calf registrations were only marginally higher in 2012 compared with 2011.

The trend towards increased registrations in the first quarter of 2012 was offset by lower numbers during the rest of the year. At 2.64 million head, registrations were just 0.4 per cent, or 9,000 head, up on 2011 levels.

Cows and Calves

photo © Jennifer MacKenzie

This fractional increase was driven by higher numbers of registrations of dairy calves. Dairy-bred female registrations were up two per cent while dairy-bred male registrations were up seven per cent. These dairy-bred males had traditionally been finished on intensive cereal-based systems but numbers had declined due to challenging economics. Strengthening beef prices look to have encouraged producers to retain more of these animals, increasingly as steers.

Two thirds of calves were registered as non-dairy animals, broadly the same as last year. However, the longer-term trend shows some upward movement in the proportion of dairy registrations, as in 2006 almost 75 per cent of calves were registered as non-dairy animals.

Overall, there was a decline in non-dairy calf registrations, as a result of lower year-on-year registrations in the months since March. In the first quarter of 2012, non-dairy registrations were 35,000 head higher than in the previous year, with the number of males up 18 per cent, indicating a potential upturn in male cattle slaughterings. However, as the year progressed and registrations dropped back, it became clear that any upturn in male cattle slaughterings in the medium term is likely to be limited.

Non-dairy male registrations ended the year over one per cent, or 12,400 head, back on 2011 levels, putting them below 900,000 head for the first time since 2009. The number of non-dairy female registrations was back two per cent, or 14,000 head, to total 867,000 head. This suggests limited potential for longer-term growth in the beef breeding herd may still exist.

Limousin genetics remain the dominant type for non-dairy breeds with over 535,000 registrations in 2012, representing 20 per cent of the total. The next most popular breed was Aberdeen Angus, for which registrations increased four per cent on the year to over 265,500 head, accounting for 10 per cent of the total, a one per cent increase on the year. Unsurprisingly, Aberdeen Angus continues to dominate the native beef breeds. Charolais and Simmental were the next most popular breeds.


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