UK sheep and lamb population at highest level since 2005
The beef and dairy herds have remained largely unchanged in recent years at approximately 1.6 and 1.9 million animals respectively. The main dairy and beef herds are made up of female cattle aged 2 years or more that have calved.
The total number of pigs in the UK increased by 2.1%, from 4.9 million animals in 2016 to almost 5 million in 2017. The main reason for this was the 2.3% increase in fattening pigs, largely due to the 1.7% increase in the England figures which account for 80% of the UK fatteners.
In 2017, the number of lambs in the UK increased by 3.0% to 17.3 million and the female breeding flock increased by 2.2%. This led to a total UK sheep and lamb population of 34.8 million, the highest level since 2005.
The total number of poultry in the UK increased by 5.3% to almost 182 million birds in 2017 compared to 173 million in 2016. Laying and breeding fowl saw an increase of 4.2%, whilst table chickens increased by 6.3% to 118 million birds.
The number of goats and farmed deer in the UK increased between 2016 and 2017, rising by 1.4% and 0.6% respectively. The number of horses decreased by 3.6% and now stands at 258 thousand animals.
The total labour force on agricultural holdings in the UK increased by 1.7% to 474 thousand in 2017. Farmers, business partners, directors and spouses account for the majority (62%) of the total labour force and increased by 1.3% to 294 thousand. ■