A small but consistent increase in the number of livestock almost across the board on Scottish farms – with beef cattle, dairy cows, poultry, sheep and pigs all showing a rise in numbers was recorded while there was a decline in the area of land sown to winter crops.
Total winter sowings were down to 191,000 hectares, with 6,400 hectares less oilseed rape, 3,000 hectares less barley and 2,400 hectares less wheat, the only exception being winter oats which increased by 900 hectares.
Cattle numbers rose marginally, by 0.3 per cent, to 1.74 million. There was a slight increase in beef cattle and a slight decrease in dairy cattle, though dairy cow numbers still increased.
December sheep numbers increased one per cent to 4.96 million. In the poultry sector, an increase in the number of layers and breeders, and a small recovery in the number of broilers resulted in a 13 per cent increase in the total, to 13.4 million. These figures replicated those from June in showing that for the first time there were now more layers in Scotland than broilers.
Pig numbers continued to rise, with a 2.7 per cent increase to 331,000, driven by an increase in the breeding herd.
The results also show that the amount of grass and arable silage saw increases in 2015.