Scottish Agricultural Census: final results - June 2020

Final results from the 2020 June Agricultural Census on land use, crop areas, livestock and the number of people working on agricultural holdings. These results replace the provisional figures published on 6 October 2020.

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Steady decline of total cattle numbers

A chart showing total cattle numbers from 1970-2020.

Total cattle numbers have steadily declined to a new 60 year low. In 2020, there were 1.71 million cattle in Scotland, a one per cent drop on 2019. Cattle numbers have been trending down since a peak in 1974 when there were 2.78 million cattle. 

Number of cattle

1.71 million 

Office of National Statistics environmental figures show methane emissions in the agriculture and related land use sector fell by just over 16 per cent between 1990 and 2018. This reduction is partly linked to a fall in livestock numbers. 

In recent years increased costs of feed, vets and animal housing along with changes to the support system has led to a reduction in the profitability of cattle. 



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