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Fewest Calves Registered For a Decade in 2013

14 January 2014

UK - Beef-sired calf number came in at the lowest in a decade last year, according to the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC).

During 2013 a total of 309,645 beef sired calves were registered compared to 330,627 beef calves during 2012, write market experts at LMC. 

This reduction by 20,982 head accounts for a 6.3 per cent reduction year on year. Figure 1 displays the number of beef sired calves registered in NI annually during the period 2003-2013.

The number of beef sired calves registered peaked in 2005 at 385,188 head and then recorded a gradual decline until 2009 following the decoupling of subsidies from production. During the period 2009 to 2012 however the number of beef sired calves started to show a gradual recovery as the industry responded to improvements in beef prices.

Beef sired calf registrations in 2013 were 75,543 head behind the peak levels recorded in 2005, representing a 19.6 per cent reduction when comparing the two years. While some of this reduction will have been caused by a contraction in suckler cow numbers following the 2003 CAP reforms changes in the management practices in the NI dairy herd will also have had an impact.

A tightening in calving patterns and an increase in the number of dairy producers breeding their own replacements will have reduced the number of beef sired calves being produced from the dairy herd.

The combination of the poor summer weather in 2012, reports of reduced cow fertility and fodder shortages as we moved into spring 2013 will all have contributed to the fall in calf registrations. These factors, combined with increased costs of production and a relatively high cow beef price, will have contributed to a higher cow culling rate and subsequently further impacted on calf registration levels.

The Agricultural Census carried out by DARD in June 2013 recorded 270,100 cows on NI farms for beef production, a three percent reduction on the 279,200 recorded on farms during June 2012. The number of in calf beef heifers also recorded a decline between the two years, falling from 40,900 in June 2012 to 37,400 in June 2013.

This is a reduction of 9 per cent year on year. On a more positive note however the number of heifers under two years in calf remained fairly steady at 16,200 while the number of heifers in calf over 2 years of age was back 14 per cent year on year. Figure 2 displays the monthly beef sired calf registrations during 2013 compared to 2012.

As indicated in the chart beef sired calf registrations tend to peak in April, May and June to coincide with the peak grass growing season. In addition to this a percentage of the beef sired calves born during this herd.

The combination of the poor summer weather in 2012, reports of reduced cow fertility and fodder shortages as we moved into spring 2013 will all have contributed to the fall in calf registrations. These factors, combined with increased costs of production and a relatively high cow beef price, will have contributed to a higher cow culling rate and subsequently further impacted on calf registration levels.

The Agricultural Census carried out by DARD in June 2013 recorded 270,100 cows on NI farms for beef production, a three percent reduction on the 279,200 recorded on farms during June 2012. The number of in calf beef heifers also recorded a decline between the two years, falling from 40,900 in June 2012 to 37,400 in June 2013.

This is a reduction of 9 per cent year on year. On a more positive note however the number of heifers under two years in calf remained fairly steady at 16,200 while the number of heifers in calf over 2 years of age was back 14 per cent year on year. Figure 2 displays the monthly beef sired calf registrations during 2013 compared to 2012.

As indicated in the chart beef sired calf registrations tend to peak in April, May and June to coincide with the peak grass growing season. In addition to this a percentage of the beef sired calves born during this period will be a result of dairy producers using a beef bred sweeper bull. During both 2012 and 2013 43 per cent of beef sired calves were registered during this three month period.

During 2013 the number of beef sired calves registered per month was lower than the corresponding month in 2012 for eight months out of the twelve. During December 2013 a total of 12,940 beef calves were registered compared to 11,933 registered during December 2012. This accounts for an 8.4 per cent increase in registrations with an additional 1,007 calves registered. 

Dairy-sired Bull Calves

During 2013, a little over 87,900 dairy males were registered, a 2.8 drop on the 90,462 registered in 2012. 

Often these animals are exported out of Norther Ireland within the EU. Last year, the total number of exported males increased 15.4 per cent year on year. This saw 23,634 animals exported, compared to the 20,473 animals in 2012. 

Almost all exported animals are dairy-sired male calves with 90 per cent going for beef production in Spain. 

 

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