Fench Cattle Numbers Follow Downward Trend

FRANCE - French cattle slaughtering figures for calendar 2007 finished the year at just over 5 million head, just over 40,000 head fewer than 2006, according to the French national agricultural statistics agency Agreste. It is not difficult to detect a degree of pessimism in these figures.
calendar icon 30 January 2008
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Breeding intentions and long term strategies, for instance, are not hard to spot. There was a 15% surge in the numbers of young bulls (under two years) sent to slaughter, with a year end total of 1.03 million. This was accompanied by a six per cent lift in the number of adult bulls that went for slaughter, totalling 73,159.

In addition, imports of breeding bulls reached a three-year low at 447 head during 2007, while exports of breeding bulls for the year totalled 17,455, up more than 15 per cent year-on-year. Similar patterns were recorded for imports and exports of breeding cows, although fewer animals are involved.

The country enjoyed some of the best grazing for years, but most of this was reserved for the rest of the herd. The bulk of the bull slaughterings took place between May to October, with a peak in August for the young bulls.

Despite relatively low cow numbers, there are at last signs of French milk production starting to recover, with a 4% year-on-year increase in milk collections. This follows two successive years of quota undershoot and a third remains likely. However, Agreste reported late last year that there were 137,000 fewer dairy cattle, while suckler beef cow numbers had risen by 105,000.

Although cow slaughterings for 2007 are down by around five per cent year-on-year at 1.69 million, this is partly because there are simply fewer cows in the national herd. Numbers may not move a great deal in the coming months, since at 432,000 head, the 2007 slaughter total for other females is within a few hundred head of 2006's figure.

Agreste's Conjoncture animaux de boucherie for January 2008 can be downloaded in French at http://agreste.agriculture.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/animens0801note.pdf

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