A significant long-term decline in the volumes of beef from dairy calves is inevitable unless more black and white calves are brought into the red meat supply chain, new figures indicate.

While there was an 8.5% increase to 26,000 in the number of pure-bred dairy calves born between June and October, there was a 10% drop in both cross-bred Belgian Blue and Limousin calves to a combined 26,000 in the same period, according to British Cattle Movement Service figures.

No more than a quarter of dairy cows were producing beef-cross calves, compared with 25% to 40% normally, the Beyond Calf Exports Forum reported.

Present birth rates would lead to a "huge supply gap" in August to December 2009, the Forum added. Although more black and white bull cows had begun to move through the system, much more was needed, it said, as 56,000 were wasted between June and October.