UK calf registration has dropped to their lowest level since 2013
The latest figures in calf registration across Great Britain show a decline in breeding herd population of 1.8%, with Scottish calf registrations fell even faster, down 2.8% during 2018. That means the herd is now at its lowest level since 2013, as Stuart Ashworth, QMS Director of Economics Services mentioned.
"This decline in calf registrations during 2018 comes on the back of a decline of 0.25% in 2017 and puts Scottish calf registrations to their lowest point since 2013 when the poor weather of 2012 impacted on animal productivity", he said.
Considering the fact that the number of heifers slaughtered in the last months was high, analysts do not expect a decline in beef production in short-term but, eventually, this will occur in the future. "In the short-term, increases in the number of beef heifer registrations would allow for continued growth in prime beef heifers reaching abattoirs. This would mitigate any decline in beef production in the short-term but, of course, not indicate any growth in the breeding herd", Stuart Ashworth mentioned in his analysis.
The future for the UK beef sector depends now not only on the outcome of Brexit negotiations but also on the decision that farmers must take regarding the size of their herds in the near future.
"With the beef sector, and all agriculture, facing ambiguity over the terms of business they will face as a consequence of the lack of clarity over the outcome of Brexit negotiations, it may yet prove to be the case that the biggest influence on beef production and farmgate prices in 2019 will be the decision made by producers over the future size of their breeding herd," added Mr Ashworth.