Scottish Beef Herd Expands as Sheep Flock Shrinks

SCOTLAND, UK - The Scottish beef and pig herds increased in size during 2015 while the Scottish sheep flock contracted slightly, according to a report published by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).
calendar icon 21 June 2016
clock icon 2 minute read

The figures revealed in the “Scottish Red Meat Industry Profile” show a 0.4 per cent increase in the beef herd to 424,500 head in December 2015 coupled with a 12.5 per cent increase in the sow herd, to 37,300 head.

Breeding sheep numbers, however, eased by 1 per cent to 3.011 million head. The report also shows that red meat output accounts for 40 per cent of the total agricultural output in Scotland.

“Scottish abattoirs handled fewer prime cattle in 2015 but, with average carcase weights on the increase, annual beef production volumes were only 0.3 per cent below 2014 levels at 169,200t,” said Iain Macdonald, Senior Economics Analyst with QMS.

England and Wales remained the largest market for Scottish processors in 2015, with more than two-thirds of all revenues being generated there. Export sales are estimated to have risen by 4 per cent to £76.5m with increased beef exports more than offsetting a decline in sheepmeat exports.

“In 2015 the UK traded less red meat than in the previous year. Imports fell 3.5 per cent to 927,500t with exports down 9.5 per cent at 378,000t. Rising domestic production reduced import requirements as exchange rate movements made it difficult to export profitably, leaving a greater proportion of domestic production on the home market,” observed Mr Macdonald.

Farmgate cattle prices fell back for a second successive year in 2015 with Scottish abattoirs paying an average of 361p/kg dwt for steers, down 2 per cent on 2014.

“For prime sheep, a difficult market led to a 9 per cent fall in the average producer price at Scottish auctions to 167p/kg liveweight,” said Mr Macdonald.

“Meanwhile, store cattle prices were little different on average to those of 2014, but the autumn trade in store lambs struggled, with Blackface prices averaging 6 per cent lower. Prime pig producer prices fell sharply in 2015, averaging 17 per cent below 2014.”

The annual average agricultural input cost in the UK declined by 4.5 per cent in 2015 and fell to its lowest level since 2010. The cost of energy and feed fell sharply, with fertilisers also proving cheaper than in 2014.

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.

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