The effect of beef inseminations on the GB milking herd

Published 5 June 19

The GB milking herd has been reducing since 2015, but the move towards beef inseminations from 2015/16 exacerbated the situation. For many, rearing dairy crosses is an opportunity for better margins, particularly when milk prices are low.

The impact of the switch is now becoming visible. Milking herd numbers for April 2019 showed a 50k head (2.8%) year-on-year drop, according to BCMS data. Of this, the numbers 2-4 year olds in the herd showed a drop of 36k head (4.4%).

Young Stock Graph

While beef inseminations continue to increase, the overall impact on the dairy herd is being offset by the move towards sexed semen. The net impact of this move should reduce GB milk production through to 2021, although at a diminishing rate.

This year has shown that, despite poor forage stocks over the winter, and with the number of 2-4 year olds in the milking herd is at its lowest since July 2016, milk yields still pushed peak production to record highs.