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Milking herd shrinks as fewer cows retained in UK

Staff Writer |
The GB milking herd was 2% smaller as of 31 October, with around 40k fewer head than a year ago, according to the latest data from BCMS.

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The drop off in numbers is primarily down to a smaller cohort of younger cows entering the herd. There were in total 25k fewer cows in the 2-3 year age group compared to the same time last year, which accounted for 62% of the drop in numbers.

Although a shift to beef semen in 2015 has meant we’ve seen lower numbers of available youngstock, we would have expected this to be offset by higher retention rates within the rest of milking herd.

In other words, a higher proportion of the 2-7 year olds from last year showing as 3-8 year olds this year. However, with the challenges dairy farmers have faced through most of this year, this does not appear to have happened. The drop in the retention rate of cows aged 3-8yrs accounts for 12k out of the remaining 15k drop in numbers.

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