Aberdeen-Angus cross registrations have soared with the latest figures from British Cattle Movement Service revealing a 9000+head increase in the first half of 2023.

The Aberdeen-Angus is now the No. 1 ranked breed with 261,962 cross-bred calves registered in the first six months of 2023 – up from last year’s figure of 252,928. This is significantly higher than the No 2 breed, the Limousin which recorded 222,262 cross-bred registrations in the January to June 2023 period, which was 7% down on the previous year’s figures of 239,971.

The British Blue is now ranked in third with 138,202 registrations, with the Charolais in fourth at 107,768.

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In general, most native breeds saw improved registrations in the first six months of 2023, with Hereford crosses up by 4952 and pure-bred Angus and Hereford both up marginally in the same period last year.

This compares to the continental breeds which saw some huge reductions in registrations, led by the Limousin which saw figures drop a massive 17,279 head; Simmental down 4757 and Charolais fell 4130. In contrast, British Blue Cross registrations were up by 3759.

More worrying however are the total overall registrations, which are down 2.1% on the same period last year at 1.53m head, with the number of calves for beef production down further at 1.30m head in the first six months of 2023.

The last data shows decreasing numbers across all groups of cattle. However, as would be expected, the greatest decrease was seen in dairy male calves – with registrations 19% lower than the same period in 2022. According to a report from AHDB, this decrease can be attributed to the continued uptake of sexed semen and beef cross-breeding strategy in GB dairy herds.

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The number of calves registered that could be available for beef production (dairy male calves and beef calves of both sexes) has reduced by 1.8% to 1.30m head, largely driven by dairy males.

Looking at registrations by dam type, so far this year, registrations of animals for beef production out of the dairy herd have risen by 1.7%, while suckler-born registrations have fallen by 3.5%. This demonstrates the increased importance of the dairy herd to beef production.

There has also been a small year-on-year decline in the GB milking herd of 0.6%, with July figures totalling 1.62m head – continuing the annual decline that has been seen consistently since 2018.

The youngstock population (less than two years) also saw a decline, reducing by 1.2% (11,500 head) compared to the same point last year, to stand at 929,000 head in July. This is the second consecutive quarterly decline for young stock numbers, with this age group showing an increase from late 2020 to the beginning of 2023.

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The only category to see annual growth was the 2-4 years grouping with a year-on-year increase of 21,800 heads, the greatest increase in this age group since 2018. This trend can be traced back to increased youngstock numbers in 2021, as these cows mature into the milking herd.

However, this was offset by a considerable decline in all other age categories, in particular the 6-8-year group, suggesting that farmers have been culling out older cows to make way for younger replacements to maintain herd numbers.

It is also thought that older animals could be culled out more when cows start to be moved into winter housing due to the increased costs of forage and feed and the lower milk prices currently being paid.