Meat & Livestock News

UK Beef and Lamb Production: September Data Indicates Reduced Output

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Key Points

  • Cattle production levels for September 2023 remain below those of 2022 due to fewer slaughters and lighter carcass weights.
  • A decrease in sheep slaughter numbers has contributed to a decline in production levels for September 2023.

Beef Production Trends

As per the statistics released by the Department for Environment (DoE), Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), beef production in the UK for September 2023 stood at 70,700 tonnes. This marks a 4% decrease compared to August 2023 and a 2% decline when compared to September 2022.

In terms of slaughter numbers, prime cattle slaughters in September 2023 totalled 161,200 head, a 4% drop from August 2023. These figures also sit below the five-year average by 3,800 head and are 1,500 head fewer than September 2022. As the Christmas season approaches, an uptick in seasonal slaughter levels is anticipated.

Cow slaughters for September 2023 were also down, totalling 48,100, a 5% decline compared to the same month in 2022 and a 3% decrease from the previous month.

Carcase weights have been lighter throughout 2023, a trend that continued into September. The average prime cattle carcass weight was 340kg per head, a slight 0.4% decrease compared to September 2022. This has contributed to the overall decline in beef production.

Market reports indicate that variable forage quality this year has led to more cattle being slaughtered and slightly under-finished.

Sheep Meat Production

Defra’s data shows that UK sheep meat production for September 2023 was 22,700 tonnes, a 4% decline from August 2023 and a 7% decrease compared to September 2022. This figure also falls 12% below the five-year average for September.

Carcase weights remained relatively stable, averaging 19.6kg per head, consistent with August 2023 and only 0.1kg per head below the September 2022 average.

The decline in sheep meat production is primarily due to a decrease in slaughter numbers. Clean sheep slaughters fell by 4% from August 2023, totalling 994,000 head.

This is also 4% lower than the slaughter numbers for September 2022. Adult sheep slaughter rates have similarly declined by 4% since August 2022.

The UK continues to experience a decline in both beef and sheep meat production as of September 2023. Factors such as lighter carcass weights and reduced slaughter numbers are contributing to this trend. As the festive season approaches, it remains to be seen whether seasonal demands will influence production levels.