Less farmers but more cows to milk

THE number of farmers milking cows in Scotland continues to decline but with those remaining in the industry increasing their herds, the number of cows being milked actually increased last year.

In the latest statistics published by the Scottish Dairy Cattle Association (SDCA) for the year to 1 January 2012, the number of dairy herds in Scotland fell by 24 to a total of 1,027 but cow numbers rose by 1,046 to 162,952 taking the average herd size to 159 cows, and 185 in officially milk recorded herds.

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The county with the largest loss of herds was Lanarkshire, down eight to 127 herds, but it was in the dairying areas of the south and south-west of Scotland where optimism was showing. The counties of Dumfriesshire, Kirkcudbrightshire and Wigtownshire averaged no reduction in herds but increased cow numbers by 3,029. The largest losses in cow numbers were in the North-east, Ayrshire, Lanarkshire and Roxburgh.

Janette Mathie, secretary of the SDCA said “The general pattern of fewer herds and larger cow numbers continues with huge long-term investment on many farms.

“Scottish dairy farms are also leading the way in support of the Scottish Government’s BVD eradication scheme which will bring great benefits to the national herd.”