European Union

Cattle numbers down again

In Europe, the number of dairy cows is falling.
picture alliance/Sebastian Willnow
In Europe, the number of dairy cows is falling.

Unlike pig farmers, marketers of cattle for slaughter in the European Union can currently enjoy record prices for their livestock, as the number of cattle is declining. In France and Germany in particular, herds are declining.

Demand, which is picking up again after the Corona pandemic, is meeting with only a limited supply of beef. Extensive slaughter volumes can hardly be expected for the rest of the year, as cattle numbers were again down at the May and June 2021 count dates, respectively. According to Eurostat, the 13 reporting member states - which account for about 92% of the total EU herd - held 70.35 million head of cattle this spring, down nearly 400,000 head or 0.6% from the previous year's survey. In several countries, including France and Germany, herds fell to historic lows.

Fewer dairy cows and young cattle

In particular, EU farmers had fewer females older than two years in the barn or on pasture, with herds down nearly 540,000 or 1.6% to 32.87 million head compared to the spring 2020 census. This included a 228,000-head, or 4.7%, drop in heifer numbers to 4.65 million. The number of dairy cows also declined again, by 242,000 or 1.3% to 18.49 million head. In addition, the suckler cow herd shrank by 666,600 head, or 0.7%, to 9.73 million head. For male cattle excluding calves for slaughter, the total herd of 12.39 million was roughly on a par with the previous year, with animals between one and two years old showing an increase of 1.3% to 4.92 million.

Only Ireland, Italy and Poland stock up

The largest cattle farmers in the Community, namely France and Germany, recorded above-average herd losses. French farmers reduced their cattle population by 339,000 head, or 1.9%, to 18.96 million head. In Germany, the population declined by 247,000 or 2.2% to 11.18 million head. The dairy herd was down about 2% in each of the two countries; by 72,000 head to 3.51 million in France and by 78,000 head to 3.89 million in Germany. In addition, cattle numbers declined by 1.9% in Belgium and by 0.9% in both Denmark and the Netherlands. In contrast, producers in Ireland, Italy and Poland increased their cattle numbers by between 0.6% and 0.9%, and in Spain by almost 200,000 head or 2.9% to 6.91 million head. AgE