The number of pigs has also fallen but cattle and sheep numbers are on the increase
Cattle and sheep numbers in Wales are on the increase but the numbers of pigs and farmers are down, according to the latest Welsh Government June 2016 census returns.
They put the total number of cattle and calves at 1,134,300 - an increase of 1.4 per cent on June 2015 – with the number of sheep and lambs rising by 3.2 per cent to 9.81 million.
The number of dairy females aged two years or more fell by 0.8 per cent to 298,100 due to a 9 per cent fall in the number that had not yet calved.
The number of beef females remained at the previous year’s level of 208, 600.
The 3.2 per cent increase in sheep numbers was reflected by a 3.7 per cent increase in the number of breeding ewes to 4.9 million, while the number of lambs was up by 2.8 per cent at 4.7 million.
There was a decrease of 8 per cent in the number of pigs at 23,200, with breeding pigs down 5 per cent to 3,800 and fattening pigs down 9 per cent to 19,400.
The total number of poultry was 7,828,700, split at 4.3 million for table or broiler birds and 1.8 million for laying birds.
According to the census there was a 4 per cent fall in the number of Welsh farmers at 39,900, with 18,600 classed as being full-time and 21,300 part-time. The number of people employed in farming was 13,600.
Hybu Cig Cymru’s industry information executive, John Richards, said the sheep figures represented positive news overall for the red meat sector in Wales.
"From a peak of nearly 12 million sheep in the late 1990s, the numbers fell for a number of years, mainly due to the end of payments from the Common Agricultural Policy which were based on the numbers of animals kept.
"After the shift to payments which were based on area and environmental maintenance, sheep numbers fell to around 8 million," he added.
"But in the last 6 years there has been an increase and this year’s census shows the total almost at the 10 million milestone once more."
He added that there were still challenges for the lamb industry in Wales.
"Ensuring that everyone, including farmers and processors, get a good price for their product is vital, and means continuing to respond to changing customer demands.
"Political uncertainties around Brexit also mean it is difficult to predict accurately how the structure of future support payments and trade arrangements will affect livestock numbers."