Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Cattle slaughtering in the U.K. dropped to the lowest level since at least 1970 last year, as herd sizes declined to the smallest in decades, the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board said.
Meatpacking plants processed 1.93 million head of prime cattle last year, about 2 percent less than in 2012 and the lowest since government records began 43 years ago, AHDB’s beef and sheep unit EBLEX said in an online report today. U.K. cattle herds have shrunk to the smallest size since 1948, so processing probably was actually the lowest since around that time, according to the report.
Beef supplies in the U.K. are shrinking in tandem with the U.S., the world’s top exporter, helping push cattle prices to records in both countries. The U.S. cattle herd dropped last year to the smallest since 1952 after feed grain prices jumped in recent years and drought scorched pastures, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is scheduled to release its next annual cattle inventory report Jan. 31. The U.K. also contended with extreme weather, as the second-wettest year on record in 2012 muddied pastures and raised feed costs.
U.K. beef production fell about 4 percent in 2013 to 843,500 metric tons, AHDB said. Sheep slaughtering rose 5 percent last year to 12.47 million head, and production of mutton and lamb meat also increased 5 percent to 290,000 tons, according to the report.