Scottish cattle and sheep numbers increase

Friday, 22 October 2021

There were 1.72 million cattle in Scotland on 1 June according to the latest government survey, up 0.5% on the same point a year ago. Within this, the breeding herd grew slightly to 588,000 head, as a modest increase in the dairy herd offset a slight reduction in suckler numbers.

Looking at other cattle, declines were seen mostly in those aged 2 years and over, a similar story to the English numbers. However, numbers of younger cattle increased across all other groupings, particularly dairy females. Males and beef females ages 1-2 and under 1 year showed more modest changes.

On 1 June 2021 the total number of sheep in Scotland stood at 6.8 million head. The number of breeding ewes increased slightly on the year to 3.16 million head. There was a notable (+39%) increase in the number of sheep over one not intended for breeding.

The number of lambs on farm increased 1% to 3.35 million. This trend is a contrast to what England and Ireland have each recorded. Lamb kill so far this year supports the notion of there being fewer lambs around rather than more.

Please note there is a difference in how data is collected for the different species. The cattle survey results are derived from BCMS/CTS data whereas the sheep population data comes from the June Agricultural Survey.

Image of staff member Hannah Clarke

Hannah Clarke

Senior Analyst (Red Meat)

See full bio

Sign up for regular updates

You can subscribe to receive Beef and Lamb market news straight to your inbox. Simply fill in your contact details on 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  © Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. All rights reserved.