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UK milking herd continues to contract - AHDB

14 September 2022


Youngstock numbers remain high

The GB milking herd totalled 1.63 million head of cattle, a decrease of 17,000 head (1%) below July 2021, according to the latest data from British Cattle Movement Service. Overall youngstock numbers have continued to increase, and as of July 2022 totalled 941,000 head, up 3.4% (31,000 head) on July 2021, reported Charlotte Forces-Rees, a trainee analyst with AHDB. 

Despite the overall category growth, within youngstock there was a 1.7% drop in the number of calves aged 0-6months (3,800 head), compared to the same time last year. Additionally, there was a slight quarter-on-quarter decline in the number of 0-2 year olds – the first since January 2020.

All main age categories aside from youngstock saw contraction in numbers, with the largest decline seen in the 4-6 year group, back 13,100 head (-2.6%). Due to the increase in youngstock there has been a small growth in overall herd size from July 2021, up 0.3% (7,900 head).

Although the milking herd has been in long term decline, the increase in youngstock could help stabilise numbers as they start to move up through the herd. Conversely, given the financial pressures farmers are under, AHDB believes they could instead see additional destocking, either as an overall contraction to ease financial burdens or to make room for youngstock moving up. Based on cull cow numbers, this does not appear to have happened to date, however it will be a point of discussion with industry at this week’s milk forecasting forum.

TheCattleSite News Desk


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