Reduction in youngstock population brings overall dairy herd down

Published 28 February 18

According to the January 2018 BCMS data, the total herd population was down 1.4%, on the year. The main driver was a reduction in the number of heifers under 2 years old, compared to the year earlier. This indicates a decrease in the number of cows coming into the milking herd, reducing potential herd replacements, adding further evidence for the impact of inseminations in 2015.

 GB dairy herd jan 18-17

The recent BCMS data also showed a reduction in the number of cows aged 48 to 66 months, down 21k head on last year. Most of this drop is a result of fewer 42-60 month old cows six months previous, but there has also been a reduction in the retention rate of this age bracket, for the fourth consecutive year.

At the same time the number of dairy cows aged between 24 to 48 months has increased compared to the previous year. This helps partly counteract the above drops as it encompasses the age profile in peak lactation. However, for the first time since December 2016 year-on-year overall milk production yield dropped in January 2018, albeit by a modest 0.2%.