Herd and cow numbers have again slipped on the year, with the latest release from the Scottish Dairy Cattle Association showing a net loss of 36 herds and 2152 fewer cows compared to January 2020.

However, the average herd size continues to rise and now stands at 209, up six on the year, with the total milking cows at 176,338.

In Scotland there are now 843 dairy herds, almost 7000 less than 50 years ago. Over the year, Scotland lost 46 herds but also gained 10 new dairy herds.

Aberdeen, not surprisingly, saw the biggest loss with 11 herds going out of milk production. Wigtownshire revealed a net loss of six herds while Lanarkshire numbers fell by five.

Dumfriesshire and Kirkcudbrightshire increased cow numbers by 731 and 244 respectively, despite one less herd in Dumfriesshire and two down in Kirkcudbrightshire.

The number of cows officially milk recorded has risen to 73% of the dairy cow population with an average herd size of 224 cows.

There was also an increase in herds' somatic cell count monitoring and disease testing with farmers, milk buyers, and industry partners all realising the financial benefits of improving milk quality and disease awareness. Milk test for pregnancy is also increasing in popularity as it incurs no stress to the cows and is giving good results.

Commenting on the results, Janette Mathie, secretary of the SDCA said: “The first wave of the pandemic during 2020 saw demand for milk drop overnight, resulting in a decrease in farm gate prices for some dairy farmers, but resilience has been strong and there is still commitment within Scottish farmers and their families to continue dairy farming along with new dairies due to start milk production in 2021.”