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.

Bethan Wilkins

Senior Analyst - Red Meat

Sign up for regular updates

Subscribe to receive pork market news straight to your inbox. Simply complete our online form.

Visit the Keep in touch page

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 info@ahdb.org.uk  © Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. All rights reserved. 

×