Year-on-year comparisons between 2016 and 2017 show:
- A decrease in total cattle of 17,700 (1.0 per cent) to 1.69 million - similar to the decrease reported between June Census results. The figure is three per cent lower than the ten year average of 1.76 million.
- A decrease in the number of beef cows  of 5,400 (1.3 per cent) to 415,500 - again, similar to the 0.9 per cent drop reported in the June Census. The figure is five per cent lower than the ten year average of 435,300.
- A small increase in the number of dairy cows  , up 560 or 0.3 per cent to 175,200. There was a 0.4 per cent decrease in the June Census results. The figure is three per cent higher than the ten year average of 170,600.
It is likely that short-term decisions regarding when to slaughter livestock, which may depend more on weather conditions and shorter-term price variations, are responsible for changes in beef numbers.
The tentative recovery in milk prices may have led to the slight increase in dairy numbers.
Chart 6 gives a comparison of trends over the past ten years for the numbers of beef and dairy cattle  from the December Survey and June Census. It shows that numbers vary little between December and June, though a greater seasonality is evident among beef cattle numbers.
Chart 6: Beef and Dairy cattle, June and December, 2007 to 2017
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