Scottish dairy herds down but total cow numbers up

The number of dairy herds in Scotland has decreased to 982, down 19 in the six months to July 1, 2015 however cow numbers continue to increase, the Scottish Dairy Cattle Association says.

While the number of dairy herds is down in the six month period, the total number of dairy cows now stands at 174,487 up 1,204 since January 1, it says.

The association says that these figures break three records in that 982 is the lowest number of dairy herds in Scotland since records began in 1903.

It says that 174,487 is the highest number of milking and dry cows since the year 2000 and average herd size of 178 is the highest on record.

While there was a net loss of 19 herds, six new dairy herds started milking in the time period between January and July, it says.

Dumfriesshire registered the largest loss of seven dairy farms and 667 cows but Kirkcudbrightshire had a one herd net gain and added 808 cows while Wigtownshire had the same net number of herds but added 1,008 cows, it says.

Janette Mathie, Secretary of the SDCA, said that with the sad and tragic state of the ex-farm price (farmgate) of milk today nobody will be surprised with the net loss of 19 herds in the past six months but some might be surprised with the increase in cow numbers.

“Planning a future in dairying is a long-term business from erecting new buildings and rearing extra replacements.

“It is at least a three-year process and most of the expansion was planned three years or more ago when milk prices were good and farmers were being encourage to invest in the future but once the plan is started there is little you can do to stop it.

“I feel very sorry for dairy farmers at the moment as they are really trying their best under great pressure,” she said.

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