Archive: Scottish dairy herd increases

Published 14 October 14

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The Scottish dairy herd has increased 3.2% since June 2013 to a total of 274,286 head according to data from the June 2014 census. This increase, which is the equivalent of 8,383 extra dairy cattle, suggests that Scottish milk production is likely to have increased year on year and will have contributed to the 8% increase in UK milk production seen in the first six months of the current milk year.

The growth in the herd has arisen from an increase in the milking herd of 2.4% and an increase in the number of replacements by 4.3%. Replacements (animals over the age of one but yet to have a calf) are reported to be at 104,570 head, whereas the milking herd is reported to total 169,716 head.  

From 2009 to 2013 the total number of female dairy cattle in Scotland remained relatively stable (as shown in the graph below), although the number of replacements was generally growing. In order for this to be the case culls and/or sales outside of Scotland must have been roughly equal to the number of animals entering the herd in each year.

 Scottish dairy cattle numbers

The increasing number of replacement animals suggests that the Scottish dairy herd could continue to expand in the short term and lead to a subsequent increase in milk production. This correlates with results from the latest DairyCo Farmers Intentions Survey which reported that 37% of Scottish farmers expressed an intention to increase production over the next two years, with the majority (83%) intending to do so by expanding their milking herd.