Scottish agricultural survey: December 2016

Annual agricultural survey based on data from larger agricultural holdings together with estimates for smaller farms.

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6. Sheep

From 2015, the collection of sheep data from the December Survey was combined with that for the Sheep and Goat Annual Inventory ( SGAI). This causes two issues for the data which mean that comparisons with previous years should be made with caution:

  • A different set of categories, meeting the minimum requirements of both surveys, means a break in the time series for the detailed data. While the categories were chosen so that four broad groupings remained comparable, it is clear from the results that this change has unreliably affected these data. This does not however affect the total.
  • The slightly wider coverage of the SGAI resulted in an increase in the total number of sheep recorded.

While the total obtained from the 2015 survey was considered reliable, there appeared to have been some confusion around the categories. Category definitions on the 2016 forms were clarified, with this year's data looking more in line with previous years.

In 2016, there were

  • 5.04 million sheep on holdings in Scotland. This was an increase of 1.7 per cent.
  • 1.83 million lambs. This was 1.3 per cent larger than the average number between 2006 and 2014 of 1.81 million
  • 2.91 million ewes and lambs used for breeding in 2016/17. This was 3.3 per cent smaller than the average number between 2006 and 2014 of 3.01 million



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