UK Cow Numbers

Published 10 February 17

  • At June 2016, total dairy cow numbers in the UK has increased by circa 2,000 head to 1.897 million compared with June 2015. 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 101,000 (5.6%) in the five years to June 2016.

Defra figures for June 2016 show that the number of dairy cows in the UK herd has increased by 1,744 (0.1%) when compared with June 2015 standing at 1.897 million dairy cows in the UK dairy herd, an increase of 5.6% (101,000 dairy cows) compared to the five years to June 2016.

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 10.3% in the last year to 346,000. The number of female dairy cattle aged between 12 and 24 months increased by 25,000 since June 2015 which suggests there should be more cattle available to enter the herd.

Compared to June 2015, the number of dairy cows in Wales and Northern Ireland increased by 2,000 and 6,000 year on year. England and Scotland saw small decreases of 6,000 and 1,000 respectively. 

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-11

Jun-12

Jun-13

Jun-14

Jun-15

Jun-16

Dairy Herd

1,796

1,796

1,782

1,841

1,895

1,897

Other Female Cattle (24mths + who have not calved or are in calf for the first time)

410

388

387

408

386

346

Female Dairy Cattle 12mths - 24mths

510

524

538

539

545

570

 

  UK Cow Numbers

Sources: DEFRA

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