Milking herd shrinks, and further falls expected

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

The GB milking herd has continued to shrink, according to the latest data from BCMS. As at 1 July, the GB milking herd totalled 1.73 million head, 2.7% (48,000 head) fewer animals than the same point last year.

The largest drop was in cows aged 2-4 years, which accounted for 90% of the decline in the overall milking herd. This is primarily due to historic calving and insemination decisions. Meanwhile, the number of animals under 1 year declined by 2.0%, putting further downward pressure on herd sizes going forward.

By making assumptions on the proportion of cows that will be retained in the herd alongside the youngstock numbers, we can estimate the national herd size for the future. Our expectation is that the number of cows aged 2+ years next July will be around 1.70 million, a drop of 2% compared with the current level.

While last year demonstrated that herd size is not the only factor driving production, a shrinking herd increases pressure on improving yields in order to maintain overall milk volumes.

Sign up to receive the latest information from AHDB.

While AHDB seeks to ensure that the information contained on this webpage is accurate at the time of publication, no warranty is given in respect of the information and data provided. You are responsible for how you use the information. To the maximum extent permitted by law, AHDB accepts no liability for loss, damage or injury howsoever caused or suffered (including that caused by negligence) directly or indirectly in relation to the information or data provided in this publication.

All intellectual property rights in the information and data on this webpage belong to or are licensed by AHDB. You are authorised to use such information for your internal business purposes only and you must not provide this information to any other third parties, including further publication of the information, or for commercial gain in any way whatsoever without the prior written permission of AHDB for each third party disclosure, publication or commercial arrangement. For more information, please see our Terms of Use and Privacy Notice or contact the Director of Corporate Affairs at  © Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. All rights reserved.