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First French Dairy Herd Growth Since 1994

25 March 2009

FRANCE - The results of the November 2008 French livestock survey show a slight increase in the French cattle herd to 19.4 million head. This represents the second year of increased numbers following five years of decline.

Dairy cow numbers increased by almost 1 per cent to 3.8 million head, which represents the first lift since 1994 and follows the higher milk prices evident for much of 2008. The number of beef cows was marginally higher at almost 4.19 million head.

Cattle over two years of age increased by 2 per cent to 2.57 million head, while cattle aged between one and two years of age were 4 per cent higher at 3.7 million head reflecting the ongoing reduced level of live exports due to bluetongue restrictions. This is expected to boost French beef production during 2009.

For the year, Agreste anticipate a rise of over 3 per cent in French cattle supplies to 4.37 million head while calf disposals look set to recovery to 2007 levels at almost two million head helped by lower feed costs. However, some decline in carcase weights may partly offset the increase in adult cattle supplies.

All of the increase is expected in the first half due to a strong recovery in cow disposals and increased male cattle supplies following lower live exports throughout 2008. Agreste suggest that disposals in the first six months of 2009 could be almost 8 per cent ahead of corresponding 2008 levels. However, figures for January show a rise of just 3 per cent. For the second half of the year, disposals are forecast to fall slightly.

French cattle supplies, 2009 vs. 2008 ( per cent Change)

Credit: Agreste

The strongest increase in supplies during 2009 is expected in males, which are forecast to rise by more than 5 per cent. An increase of 4 per cent is anticipated in heifer supplies while for the year cow disposals are expected to be maintained with a sharp decline in the second half offsetting increased availability in the early part of the year as the herd restructures.

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