UK Cow Numbers

Published 30 June 16

  • At June 2015, total dairy cow numbers in the UK has increased by 54,000 to 1.895 million Compared with June 2014. Figures for December 2015 show the total dairy cow numbers stood at 1.918 million, up 23,000 on June 2015 and up 35,000 compared with December 2014.
  • The overall number of cows in the dairy herd has risen 66,000 (3.6%) in the five years to June 2015.

Defra figures for June 2015 show that the number of dairy cows in the UK herd has increased by 54,000 (3.0%) when compared with June 2014 standing at 1.895 million dairy cows in the UK dairy herd, an increase of 3.6% (66,000 dairy cows) compared to the five years to June 2015.

December 2015 figures show the total dairy cow numbers stood at 1.918 million, up 23,000 (1.2%) on June 2015 and up 35,000 (1.9%) compared with December 2014.

The number of female dairy cattle aged over 24 months but that have not calved decreased by 5.5% in the last year to 386,000, suggesting that the number of cattle available to enter the herd in the short-term has increased. The number of female dairy cattle aged between 12 and 24 months increased marginally by 7,000 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 0.9% (68 litres per cow) increase in the average yield per cow from 2014/15, to 7,912 litres per cow in 2015/16. 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 are available via the link on the right side of this page.