Dairy herd numbers steady despite woes afflicting sector

Despite the well-documented troubles of the sector, figures just released show that the number of dairy herds in Scotland has remained static over the past six months.

Latest figures show no change in the number of dairy herds in Scotland. Picture: John Devlin
Latest figures show no change in the number of dairy herds in Scotland. Picture: John Devlin

The most recent statistics from the Scottish Dairy Cattle Association (SDCA) show that while the total number of dairy herds in Scotland remained static at 974, cow numbers had decreased slightly to 174,032 – although this figures revealed that the national dairy herd stood at its second-highest level since 1997.

However, although the total number of herds remained the same, this masked some churn in the market – with those ceasing production due to the low milk price and retirements being matched by an equal number starting up due to long term planning and investment.

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Official figures highlight slump in farm incomes

Breaking down the regional figures, numbers in most counties have remained almost unchanged but the most significant changes were seen in Lanarkshire, which lost a net four herds and 616 cows, and Ayrshire, which lost a net two herds and 376 cows.

Other counties losing numbers of cows were Kirkcudbrightshire -369 cows, Kintyre -151 cows and Argyllshire -138 cows. Counties with a small increase in cow numbers included Orkney, Roxburghshire and Stirlingshire.

Overall, the average herd size decreased by one to 179.

Giving those in the sector full marks for weathering the financial storms, Janette Mathie secretary of the SDCA however added that with several herds slated for dispersal before the end of the year, the next round of figures might show the reduction in numbers many had anticipated.