UK Cow Numbers

Published 16 May 18

Defra figures for June 2017 show that the number of dairy cows in the UK herd has decreased by 5,719 (0.3%) when compared with June 2016 standing at 1.891 million. There was an increase of 5.3% (95,000 dairy cows) compared to the five years to June 2017.

Figures for December 2017 show the total dairy cow numbers stood at 1,904 million, an increase of circa 12,591 heads on June 2017 and an increase of 6,432 on December 2016.

The number of female dairy cattle aged over 24 months that have not calved remained at 346,000. The number of female dairy cattle aged between 12 and 24 months decreased by 3,000 since June 2016 which suggests there should be slightly less cattle available to enter the herd.

Compared to June 2016, the number of dairy cows in Wales increased by 3,000 year on year. England, Scotland and Northern Ireland all saw small decreases of 6,000, 1000 and 1,000 respectively. 

The latest provisional figures from Defra show a 4.8% (385 litres per cow) decrease in the average yield per cow from 2015/16, to 7,557 litres per cow in 2016/17.  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.

 UK Cow Numbers _table

UK Cow Numbers

Sources: DEFRA

Cow numbers by county are available via the link on the right side of this page.