DAIRY herd numbers in Scotland have again slipped, while actual cow numbers increased in the six-month figures to the end of June.
Figures from the Scottish Dairy Cattle Association show that there are now only 924 dairy herds – the lowest number since records began in 1903 and a reduction of 33 since January this year.
However, cow numbers have increased over the past six months by 2622 to 175,928 – the highest figure since 1997, with an average herd size of 191 also being the highest in history.
Dairy herds that are officially milk recorded have increased by 102 to 649, partly due to EU financial incentives but also due to milk buyers and farmers realising the financial benefits of improving milk quality and lowering somatic cell counts, as well as many other high tech benefits such as pregnancy checking and disease testing.
Commenting on the figures, secretary of the SDCA, Janette Mathie said: “The next six months will be interesting as we know of a number herds coming out of milk production but we also know of some completely new herds starting up before the end of the year. I think the trend of less herds and more cows per herd will continue.”
Ayrshire continues to be the largest dairying county with 222 farms and 34,440 milking cows, closely followed by Dumfriesshire with 154 herds and 32,185 cows.
The largest average herd sizes are Berwickshire at 568 followed by Roxburgh at 399.