GB dairy herd shrinks

Published 15 August 16

The size of the milking herd in Britain has decreased by 2% over the past year, the biggest annual drop in the last four years. According to BCMS, there were 1.80m dairy females over 2yrs as of 1 July 2016, down 37k head from a year earlier. Cullings of dairy females (36 months +) over the same period rose 13% to 37k.

While cullings have been increasing steadily since the middle of 2014, the rate accelerated at the beginning of 2016. The increase has predominantly affected the number of cows in the early lactation years. 

 BCMS deaths Aug 2016

The net decline in the milking herd suggests that those being culled are not being replaced by youngstock. Short term, this could mean production will be lower. However, the number of youngstock is still 15k head higher than last year and almost 60k head higher compared to four years earlier. As a result, the potential to increase milk production through an increase in the milking herd still exists.