Organic pig and sheep numbers fall

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

By Bethan Wilkins

The latest figures from Defra show a fall in the number of organically farmed pigs and sheep in the UK in 2020. This continues a trend from the previous two years. Conversely, cattle numbers were stable and poultry numbers have continued to rise. Overall, organic production remains a niche area in UK livestock production.

The organic pig herd totalled 27,000 head, the lowest number in at least a decade and 20% lower than the year before.

The number of organic sheep totalled 731,000 head, a 7% year-on-year decline. This was also the lowest number in at least a decade.

Organic cattle numbers were stable on the previous year, at 304,000 head.

Poultry numbers continued to increase, up by 11% on 2019 to stand at 3.8 million. 

Looking at the amount of land with organic status, this remained relatively stable at 458,000 hectares. However, there was some recovery in the area of land in conversion to organic, which gained 12% on 2019 to 31,000 hectares. Most organic land is used as permanent or temporary pasture, including rough grazing.

Despite a lacklustre picture for organic livestock numbers and land area, organic retail sales increased in 2020. However, concern over household budgets going forward may mean continued growth in this area is tricky.

Image of staff member Bethan Wilkins

Bethan Wilkins

Senior Analyst - Red Meat

See full bio

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