Defra June census: Cattle, lambs, wheat down, pigs up
18 October 2013 | By Alistair Driver
THE UK dairy and beef herds continue to contract but pig numbers are on the up, according the latest Defra June farming statistics.
The provisional statistics also confirm the impact of the poor winter and spring weather on wheat and oliseed rape yields this summer.
The statistics, published on Thursday, contain provisional estimates for land use, crop areas and livestock populations on agricultural holdings in the UK and the size of the UK cereals and oilseed rape harvest for 2013. Final results will be published on 19 December 2013.
The total number of cattle and calves decreased slightly by 0.6 per cent between 2012 and 2013 to just over 9.8 million.
But the cattle breeding herd decreased more markedly, by 2.2 per to 3.4m in 2013, with the national beef and dairy breeding herds both continuing their long-term downward trend, contracting.
The dairy breeding herd, which stood at 2m in 2005, has dropped below 1.8m, falling 1.6 per cent over the past year.
The beef breeding herd was down 2.8 per cent on 2012, now standing at 1.61m.
The UK population of sheep and lambs has risen slightly by 0.3 per cent to 32.3m animals, largely due to the 1.5 per cent increase in the female breeding flock to just under 15.5m. This has been partially offset by a 1 decrease in lamb numbers.
Pig numbers are on the up, after years of decline since the late 1990s. Last year pig numbers increased marginally to just under 4.5m. This year, as prices continue to rise, has seen a further increase of 8.2 per cent to 4.8m
This was due to a 9.4 per cent rise in the number of fattening pigs which increased to 4.3m in 2013.
The provisional 2013 UK wheat harvest is 12.1 million tonnes, down 8.7 per cent on 2012. The well-documented reduction is the result of the large fall in planted area, down 18 per cent to 1.6m hectares on the back of the prolonged wet weather and subsequent difficult planting conditions.
Improved yields, up by 12 per cent to 7.4 tonnes per hectare, have slightly offset the impact of the fall in area.
The oilseed rape harvest fell by 16 per cent to 2.1 million tonnes for 2013 as a result of falls in both yield and planted area. The yield decreased by 11 per cent to 3t/ha following the poor winter and spring weather, while the planted area fell by 5.2 per cent to 716,000ha.
There was a big increase of 29 per cent to 7.1m t of barley produced in the 2013 harvest, driven by the 46 per cent increase in the area of spring barley planted. This more than made up for a 19 per cent reduction in the area of winter barley planted due to the difficult weather conditions.
Barley yields increased by 6.2 per cent to 5.8t/ha.
The total area of horticultural crops has decreased by 4.9 per cent between 2012 and 2013 and now stands at 163,000. The majority of this is made up by vegetables and salad for human consumption, which cover 116,000, a reduction of 6.0% from 2012.
Estimates for poultry, horses, goats, farmed deer and camelids will be included in the final publication due on 19 December 2013
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