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Beef farming in the uk

Cattle have been farmed in the UK since the first farmers settled and started clearing the wildwood over 6000 years ago. Initially the cattle were small dual purpose animals, supplying both meat and milk. Recently cattle breeds have become specialised and farmers have concentrated on either the supply of beef or milk.


beef cattle in the UKToday around 2,200,000 cattle are slaughtered for beef each year. These animals consist of steers (castrated bulls), heifers (young females) and young bulls. These animals are born roughly equally to beef and dairy herds.


dairy cross beef animalsAnimals supplied for beef production from the dairy herd are either pure bred dairy calves that are not required to maintain the herd (mostly bull calves), or calves that are born of a dairy cow that has been crossed with a beef breed. These animals are usually sold by dairy farmers on to beef farmers who will grow the animals on ready for slaughter (finishing). Pure bred dairy bull calves are not particularly suitable for beef production and so attract low prices whereas cross bred bull calves which "finish well" are in strong demand.


suckling calfAnimals supplied for beef production from the beef herd tend to be borne of beef cows that suckle the calf for between 7 and 10 months. After weaning the calves are finished through a variety of feeding systems. Farmers who run suckler beef herds tend to finish their animals through more extensive feeding systems.


young store cattleWhatever their origin, animals that are being grown for beef tend to be referred to as calves up until the age of about 6-9 months, a process known as rearing. Thereafter they are known as stores - animals that are suitable for finishing.


a family of Simmental cattleRearing and finishing can be done under a number of differing feeding strategies. These can range from extensive grassland systems through to those based on a higher plane of nutrition where the stock consume more concentrate (eg barley) and less bulk feed (grass or silage). The complex mix of potential rearing and finishing sytems accounts for the wide diversity in the quality and prices of beef products .








Statistics for Beef

Beef
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
Total Cattle and calves
(000s)
11135 10602 10345 10517 10588 10392 10270 10304 10107 10025 10112
Total steers etc marketed
(000s)
2421 2145 2289 2283 2329 2276 2208 2155 2013 1946 1075
Beef value of production
(£ millions)
1114 998 1113 1125 1266 1389 1591 1623 2071 2131 2191
Cattle subsidies
(£ millions)
899 831 929 928 1016 196 68 47 47 20 19
Beef production as % total supply
(%)
79 72 71 70 70 74 81 81 82 82 85
Cattle
(000s)
174.8 214.3 244.8 250.4 319.6 331.2
Compound use - cattle
(000 tonnes)
4181 4485 4544 4598 4485 4700





June Census statistics for Beef


Beef
1900
1910
1920
1930
1940
1950
1960
1970
1980
1990
2000
Other cattle 2 years and above
(Numbers)
1,036,052 1,025,138 1,326,805 882,956 1,048,184 1,142,698 864,407 553,910 625,409 708,759 639,717
Other cattle 1 year and under 2 years
(Numbers)
990,006 1,061,388 933,732 946,760 1,157,470 1,247,328 1,699,858 1,566,072 1,856,093 1,737,136 1,561,179
Other cattle and calves under 1 year
(Numbers)
923,017 985,385 751,130 897,504 1,142,630 1,455,555 1,800,192 2,133,778 2,117,083 1,965,338 1,598,127
Total cattle and calves
(Numbers)
4,848,698 5,126,251 4,818,166 5,065,026 6,157,447 7,002,668 7,601,303 7,677,784 8,055,620 7,097,436 6,155,762