Welsh sheep and cattle numbers on the rise again

Welsh sheep and cattle numbers on the rise again

For an industry beset by volatility, and at the mercy of fickle fashion and weather, the lay of the land for Welsh farming has remained relatively passive in recent years.

In a historical context, livestock numbers remain high in the sheep, cattle and poultry sectors, and low for pigs, while overall land use has remained remarkably static over the past 130 years.

In more recent years sheep numbers have begun creeping up again after a decade-long slump. So too are cattle numbers, which until 2013 has been steadily declining since the mid-1970s.

While both sectors are well below their peaks, there is a sense that a new equilibrium has been reached after the removal of production-based incentives.

Latest figures are contained in the Welsh Government’s recently published annual census, which was based on the June 2016 Survey of Agriculture and Horticulture.

They show that, in 2016, the total numbers of sheep and lambs in Wales stood at 9.81m, up 3.2% on the 2015 figure. The total number of cattle and calves in Wales was 1,134,300, an increase of 1.4% on 2015.

Hybu Cig Cymru, the Welsh red meat body, said the figures were positive news for the country’s livestock sector.

John Richard, HCC’s industry information executive, said: In the last six years there’s been an increase in sheep numbers, with the total now almost at the 10m milestone once more.

There are still challenges for the lamb industry in Wales. Political uncertainties surrounding Brexit mean that it’s difficult to predict accurately how the structure of future support payments and trade arrangements will affect livestock numbers.

The census also revealed an industry with 18,600 full-time farmers and 21,300 part-time – a fall of 4% on 2015.

Farm worker numbers were put at just 13,600, a full 18% lower than 2015, but this is subject to revision due to differences in counting methods.

Read more at http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/local-news/welsh-sheep-cattle-numbers-rise-12397335

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