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Cattle and calf livestock population in the United Kingdom (UK) 2005-2019

In 2019, the population of cattle and calves in the United Kingdom was approximately 9.46 million, a slight decrease from the previous year. This was the lowest number for the entire period shown in this graph. Despite a small rebound in 2014 and 2015 this constitutes a slow long-term decline of herd sizes.

Beef production

In 2018, two million animals that can be considered prime cattle were slaughtered. Older adult animals and calves amounted for slightly over 800,000 slaughtered animals. The average prime cattle carcass weighted 350 kilograms in 2018. As of the 6th of July 2019, prices for deadweight prime cattle reached a low of 327.5 p/kg. It is likely that more environmentally conscious and ethically minded consumers, which drive the trend for an increased demand of plant-based food, are responsible for the currently low price, which is decidedly under the five-year average.

Environmental impact

Beef consistently ranks among the most environmentally damaging food products. It produces the highest acidifying emissions per gram of protein, the most eutrophying (over enriching water with nutrients and minerals) emissions per gram of protein and requires the most water per ton of meat. Only lambs and sheep use more land per 100 grams of protein produced than cows. Both meat types have a higher CO² footprint than any other food. The enteric fermentation of the cows is the primary source for their greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions amounted to 16.8 million tons of CO² equivalent in the UK in 2017.

Number of cattle and calves on agricultural holdings in the United Kingdom (UK) from 2005 to 2019

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Release date

March 2020


United Kingdom

Survey time period

2005 to 2019

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