Beef: ABN points to expansion

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As usual in primary food production sectors, dairy farmers' warnings of an output collapse unless prices improve need treating with some scepticism. MAFF cattle census results have proved UK cow numbers are falling, but a survey by major livestock feed manufacturer ABN gives a different impression. "For every farmer thinking of leaving dairy, three are intending to expand," said ABN which polled 1,700 producers before the price increases by the multiples were announced. ABN's findings are similar to reports from the pig sector: although the overall industry may be shrinking, the outgoers are mostly small operators while strong expansion is under way or planned by a significant number of large producers. The relevance of this dairy sector consolidation to beef cattle buyers is difficult to assess. Up to a point it is bad news, because bigger, more sophisticated milking operations will tend to have higher milk yields per cow and longer lactations, reducing the supply of calves as beef industry raw material. On the other hand, some new techniques including a process making sexed semen available for artificial insemination should boost the efficiency of the dairy sector as a beef cattle supplier. The beef industry favours big dairy farms as calf suppliers because the worthwhile numbers per unit restrain procurement costs. {{MEAT }}

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