Scottish Cattle Numbers Lowest Since the 1950s
The number of cattle on Scottish farms and crofts has reached its lowest level since the 1950s, according to figures in the latest farm census.
Results from the Scottish Government’s Agricultural Survey taken in December 2016 show a decrease in total cattle of 23,900 (1.4 per cent) to 1.71 million, which is 3.5% lower than the 10 year average of 1.77million.
Beef cattle numbers were down 3,600 to 420,900, which is 4.5 per cent lower than the ten year average of 440,900. Dairy cows decreased by 2,600 to 174,400.
It is likely that short-term decisions regarding when to slaughter livestock, which may depend more on weather conditions and shorter-term price variations, are responsible for changes in beef numbers.
Relatively low milk prices and incentives to reduce herd size may have led to the slight drop in dairy numbers.
However, the number of sheep, pigs and poultry rose for the second successive year.
In 2016 there was 5.04 million sheep on holdings in Scotland. This was an increase of 1.7 per cent.
An increase in the total number of pigs of 36,800 (11.1 per cent), up to 367,800 which is 0.9 per cent larger than the tenyear average of 364,500.
Poultry numbers showed and increase of of 1.00 million (7.5 per cent) to 14.42 million.
In the arable sector cereal acreages were up, but silage and hay was down 7% and 15.3% respectively.