UK Cow Numbers

Published 21 December 15

  • Total dairy cow numbers in the UK has increased by 54,000 in the last year to 1.895 million at June 2015. This is the second year on year June increase since 2005 (data prior to 2006 is not comparable due to change in methods for calculating data, see note below). Numbers were up 12,000 on December 2014.
  • The overall number of cows in the dairy herd has risen 65,000 (3.6%) in the last five years.

Defra figures for June 2015 show that the number of dairy cows in the UK herd has increased by 54,000 (2.9%) when compared to last year. There are now 1.895 million dairy cows in the UK dairy herd, an increase of 3.6% (65,000 dairy cows) compared to the last five years. June 2015 numbers were up 12,000 head on December 2014.

The number of female dairy cattle aged over 24 months but that have not calved increased by 5.4% in the last year to 386,000, suggesting that the number of cattle available to enter the herd in the short-term has decreased. The number of female dairy cattle aged between 12 and 24 months increased marginally by 6,000 since June 2014

Compared to June 2014, the number of dairy cows in each of the regions of the UK increased year on year. England saw the largest increase of 19,000 whereas Scotland saw the smallest increase of just 6,000. 

The latest provisional figures from Defra show a 2.0 % (158 litres per cow) increase in the average yield per cow from 2013/14, to 7,870 litres per cow in 2014/15. For more information on average milk yields click here.

Note:  Different methods are used for calculating cow numbers in the UK. CTS (Cattle Tracing System) data has been used by Scotland since 2006 and has been used since 2005 in England and 2004 for Wales. From 2005 Northern Ireland has used APHIS.

December survey data is also available from the link on this page.

Thousand Head Jun-10 Jun-11 Jun-12 Jun-13 Jun-14 Jun-15
Dairy Herd 1,830 1,796 1,796 1,782 1,841 1,895
Other Female Cattle (24mths + who have not calved or are in calf for the first time) 404 410 388 387 408 386
Female Dairy Cattle 12mths - 24mths 510 510 524 538 539 545


  UK Cow Numbers

Sources: DEFRA

Cow numbers by county for 2013 are available via the link on the right side of this webpage.