Dairy herd numbers in Scotland have fallen beneath 900 as the trend for fewer herds with more cows continues.
Figures released by the Scottish Dairy Cattle Association (SDCA) showed a drop of 27 herds year on-year to 891, compared to 5,735 herds when records began in 1903. But the number of milking cows rose 610 compared to January 2018.
Lanarkshire lost the most herds, with 11 fewer herds at the start of 2019 and cow numbers down 630 at 16,191. South West Scotland is still increasing in herd size although at a slower rate compared to recent years.
Average herd sizes have now reached 201, the highest on record, with the total milking cows the highest since 1997 at 179,538.
Cows’ officially milk recorded remained more than 70 per cent of the population but there has been a sizeable increase in somatic cell count monitoring and disease testing especially for Johne’s disease.
More herds were using the milk test for pregnancy checks which incurs no stress to the cows and was giving good results.
SDCA secretary Janette Mathie said: “This year will see challenges for our industry, but there is still a lot of long-standing commitment and optimism with increased herd sizes and new dairy units due to start up throughout the year.”