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U.K. Livestock Herd Sizes Little Changed Amid Higher Feed Costs

Oct. 15 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. livestock herds were little changed compared with last year, while high feed costs may encourage some farmers to shrink output later in the year, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.

The cattle herd, including beef and dairy animals, totaled 9.902 million head as of June 1, down 0.3 percent from 9.933 million at the same time last year, Defra said today in a report on its website. Pig supplies rose to 4.483 million head, up 0.9 percent from 4.441 million head a year earlier.

The price of feed wheat has climbed 29 percent this year on NYSE Liffe in London as the wettest U.K. summer in a century cut harvests to a five-year low. Corn on the Chicago Board of Trade, the global benchmark, is up 15 percent after drought hurt crops in the U.S., the biggest grower and exporter. The U.K. National Pig Association has warned that slaughter may fall as much as 10 percent in the second half of next year as farmers’ costs climb.

“Recent high feed and input costs may start to impact on returns and some destocking is expected, which may have more impact later in 2012,” Defra said in the report today, citing pork output.

The U.K.’s supply of beef breeding cattle, an indication of future supplies, totaled 1.657 million head, down 1.1 percent from 1.675 million a year earlier, according to the report. The dairy breeding herd was 1.812 million animals, down 0.1 percent from 1.814 million head. Breeding pig supplies were pegged at 523,000 animals, unchanged from last year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Whitney McFerron in London at wmcferron1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net

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