UK cattle population shows small growth in July - AHDB

The total cattle population reached 8 million head
calendar icon 21 September 2022
clock icon 2 minute read


The population of cattle in the UK rose by 0.3% year-on-year in July according to recent data from the British Cattle Movement Service. The total cattle population reached 8 million head, up 20,800 on July 2021, according to a report from AHDB analyst Charlotte Forkes-Rees. This continues the uplift in numbers seen throughout 2022.

The number of females over 30 months (an indication of the breeding herd) stood at 2.76m, back 2% on July 2021. This decrease was evenly split between dairy and beef animals, back 2% and 2.1% respectively (circa 29,000 head each) and continues the longer-term trend for GB cow numbers.

Cattle under 30 months saw an overall increase of 1.6% (up 80,600 head), totalling 5.15m head. Dairy males were the only category to see a decline (back 9%), with the decline weighted towards animals under 12 months old (back 29,300 head). Increased use of sexed dairy and beef semen may account for some of this change.

While dairy males saw declines, growth came in other categories. Total youngstock (under 12 months old) held relatively steady on 2021 numbers, up 0.1% to 2.47m head. Beef animals (male and female) saw a 1% increase, and dairy females saw a 2% rise. Drilling into the data, the total number of animals under 6 months decreased by 1.2%. This appears to have been due to fewer dairy animals born (2% decrease for dairy females and 24% decrease for dairy males), with small increases seen for beef animals (up 0.2% for females and 0.7% for males).

Cattle available for beef production (dairy males plus beef males and females aged between 12-30 months, accounting for suckler replacements) saw an overall increase of 3%, totalling 1.8m head. All categories had increases, with dairy males up 5% , beef females up 2% , and beef males up 3%. This overall trend agrees with our outlook, that more cattle would become available during the second half of 2022.

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