Farming: Scottish dairy herds shrinking

A sharp reduction in the total number of Scottish dairy herds has seen the downward trend in the number of units milking cows continue.

The latest figures released by the Scottish Dairy Cattle Association has shown that Scotland lost a net total of 13 dairy herds in the six months to 1 July - compared with 11 for the whole of 2021.

The organisation which maintains the data base of Scottish dairy herds, and produces the official statistics recognised by AHDB yesterday revealed that the total number of milking herds had now fallen to 819. However the average herd size had once again continued to rise – this time to two more than the January 2022 figure.

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Over the same period, the overall numbers of milking cows decreased by almost 900. The total number of milking cows in Scotland is 178,464 down by 897 from 1 January.

Lanarkshire was the county most affected by the reduction in the number of farms involved in dairying, with a net loss of four herds. Dumfriesshire and Wigtownshire each lost three herds. The figures also showed that the percentage of cows being officially milk recorded had remained static - but the average herd size had also increased by two to 231.

“There is a continued increase in individual cows regularly monitored for somatic cell count, pregnancy diagnosis and health testing, especially Johne’s, IBR and BVD, through milk samples,” said Janette Mathie, SDCA Secretary. “This gives more accurate information to assist better nutrition, fertility and health management.”

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