In 2014, the Spanish beef sector accounted for 15% of Final Livestock Production and 5.7% of Final Agricultural Production. Beef production would occupy third place in volume (after poultry), with 10% of national meat production, although in this species Spain is further away from the leading positions in world production, led by the United States and Brazil. Spain accounts for 8% of European production, behind France (20%), Germany (15%), France (20%), France (20%), Italy (13%) and the United Kingdom (12%). In 2014 the total exports of meat and offal of cattle exceeded 143,000 tons. Within livestock production, the beef sector is the third in economic importance in Spain, behind the pig and milk sector. Likewise, it occupies the fifth place in productive importance in the whole of the agricultural sector of the European Union. The cattle censuses grew until 2004 and then began to fall. Throughout 2014, Spain maintained the fifth place in the European Union as a whole in terms of census and beef production, behind countries with a long tradition in this sector such as France, UK or Germany that occupy the first positions. By region, the largest cattle herd is in Castilla y León (21.3% in 2014), followed by Galicia (15.4%), Extremadura (12.9%), Catalonia (9.8%) and Andalusia (8.6%). By the end of 2014 the total census of cattle (including cows) amounted to just over 6 million animals. In recent years there has been an investment of age and currently the young bovine animals are already 50% of the total. In 2014 the production of beef decreased again, as in 2013. The number of animals slaughtered in 2014 reached 2,180,607 heads. The beef sector is composed of two major subsectors: the one of the mother cows and the one of bait. Unlike northern Europe, where closed-cycle holdings are common, in Spain the two phases occur on different holdings and from geographically remote locations. The most expensive and delicate stage or phase is that of the suckler cow or suckler cow as it is usually called the breeding females in the community slang, which acquire this name for the fact of suckling the calves that give birth, without being subjected in any time to milking. The objective of production of this sector of the suckler cows is to supply calves for the production of meat. In this group of cows the Spanish native breeds (Avilanian-black Iberian, Asturian of the valleys and Asturian of the mountain, morucha, retinta and blonde gallega) stand out, although there are also imported races like the charolaisa and limousine and the crosses of these with the Indigenous breeds. The suckler cows are located mainly in the Autonomous Communities of Castilla y León, Extremadura and Andalusia, followed by Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria. In these six Autonomous Communities, 82.5% of the census is based. The production is located in three zones: Dehesas of the west and southwest, Galicia and areas of Mountain (Cantabrian, Pyrenees, Central System and Iberian System). Except in the pasture area, farms usually have a low number of animals (15 – 16 on average). In all cases, they feed livestock with the farm’s own resources and supplement with straw and their own preserved fodder and some concentrate, in certain months of the year in which pastable resources have been exhausted. Bait farms, however, are totally intensive and except in specific areas such as Galicia, they do not have fodder areas to make this stage and the feeding is done with compound feed in which the cereals are the majority. The large farms are located in areas close to concentrations of population such as Madrid or Barcelona, hence highlight areas of great production such as Lérida, Toledo or Segovia. The increase in the census of cattle in Spain was clearly in favor of the suckler cows that represented 70% of the cows in 2007. As for meat consumption in Spain, it is stabilizing at 12-13 kg per inhabitant per year, well below the consumption of other meats, such as chicken or pork. In 2014 continued the downward trend in consumption in recent years, which has much to do with the current economic situation. After Galicia, the areas of Spain in which this meat is most consumed are the Levante (Comunidad Valenciana and Murcia), Catalonia and Madrid. Traditionally, in Spain the number of slaughtered animals under 8 months old is lower than in other EU countries, since there is scarcely any demand for consumption of white meat calves. Also the number of animals.
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Montse Gonzalez