The number of cattle in Scotland has stopped falling for the first time in seven years with just over 1.7m registered on the Cattle Tracing System (CTS).
The figures come as Scotland’s chief statistician published the first estimates from the June Agricultural Census.
The number of cattle in Scotland is still close to a 60-year low but they did rise half a percent over the last 12 months.
The number of beef females has fallen 10% in the last decade
Around three-quarters of the bovines in Scotland are beef cattle with the rest dairy. The number of beef females has fallen 10% in the last decade compared to only 2.6% for dairy cows.
Sheep numbers rising
Sheep numbers have also risen 1.6% on the year to give 6.8m sheep in Scotland, the second-highest number in 10 years. This follows strong lamb prices for the last 12 months with many lambs making over £130/head this spring. The lambing in Scotland was shown to be a success with 1.3 lambs per ewe above the 10-year average of 1.26.
Turkey numbers fell 15% to 13,000 which is still up 10,000 on 10 years ago
Total number of pigs rose 1% to 340,000, which is down from 390,000 a decade ago.
In the poultry sector, broiler numbers fell 6% to 6.3m and layers rose 1% also at 6.3m.
Turkey numbers fell 15% to 13,000 which is still up 10,000 on 10 years ago.
Veg and potatoes
Despite export problems following Brexit, the area of potatoes planted in Scotland remained steady at 28,400ha.
The area of seed potatoes went up 1.4% to over 12,000ha.
The area for vegetables rose 5% on the year to 22,100ha.
There are 7,700 regular part-time jobs and 8,000 casual or seasonal staff
The number of working days done by migrant labour in Scotland was just under 400,000, according to the census, which is the lowest since 2013. Full-time staff on Scottish farms amount to 13,000 positions.
There are 7,700 regular part-time jobs and 8,000 casual or seasonal staff. From the figures, the total workforce on farm holdings increasing slightly to 67,400.
The area of farmland which is rented is around 1.2m hectares compared to 4.4m hectares which are owner-occupied. There are just under 4,200 full tenancies which can be passed down to the next generation. These are known as 91 Act tenancies which cover over half of the rented land in Scotland. Limited-duration tenancies make up the bulk of the rest of the rented sector.
There has been a decrease in the number of secure tenancy farms which is mostly offset by an increase in limited-duration tenancies. Overall tenancies decreased slightly by one per cent to 6,100 holdings.
The Scottish harvest figures show that total cereal production is expected to be around 3.1m tonnes. On the whole, total area of cereals grown in Scotland is very similar to the 2020 estimate.
Yet winter planted crop areas have recovered following the impact of poor weather in the previous year.
Across Scotland, early estimates predict yields generally above the five-year average, with wheat and winter barley doing well.
The UK will need relatively high grain imports after wheat production recovered less than many expected
Defra released provisional data on the UK crop areas, yields and production, with wheat and oats production up but lower barley and rapeseed crops.
The UK will need relatively high grain imports after wheat production recovered less than many expected. The total crop is estimated at 14.0Mt, up from the 9.7Mt harvested in 2020 due to a rebound in area to 1.79Mha.
The 2021 barley crop is estimated at 7.1Mt which is 1.0Mt smaller than last year.
A marked recovery in the English winter barley area (up 36% and yields up 12%) is offset by the smaller spring barley areas. The English spring barley area is down 41% to 471Kha as area shifted back to wheat, while the Scottish spring barley area fell 4%.
The UK provisionally harvested 1.15Mt of oats in 2021, up 11% from 2020 and the biggest crop since 1972
For the UK as a whole, the smaller crop, coupled with higher ex-farm barley prices means less barley is likely to be used as animal feed than last season.
The UK provisionally harvested 1.15Mt of oats in 2021, up 11% from 2020 and the biggest crop since 1972.
The impact is seen in ex-farm feed oat prices, which last week were more than £40/t below those for feed barley. This is likely to keep more oats being used as animal feed.
UK rapeseed production fell below the 1Mt mark for the first time in 22 years, according to the provisional figures.
At 977Kt, the 2021 crop is 6% smaller than 2020. The 20% drop in the area is only partly offset by better yields.
The Crofting Commission, which oversees Scotland’s 20,000 crofts, has come under heavy criticism from Audit Scotland.
A CC report stated there was a breakdown of trust between the board and senior management at the non-departmental government body.
They also found that there was a lack of confidence in the chief executive and the former convener who resigned in June.
The auditors also found a lack of involvement of the board in setting the organisation’s budget. However, there was an excessive involvement of the board and former convener in day-to-day decision-making.
Malcolm Mathieson, convenor of the Crofting Commission, said: “As an organisation we recognise that the leadership and governance did not meet the standards expected of a public body.
Substantial progress has been made since the completion of the audit report
“While it is important to recognise the unprecedented pressures and exceptional circumstances that we found ourselves in during the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are confident that we have improved and transformed the organisation to ensure we meet the challenges of the future.
“Substantial progress has been made since the completion of the audit report; in particular, the clarification of roles and remits within the Commission have been defined and accepted by all.
“The board is enthusiastic about the new development function within the Commission and the upcoming digitalisation of many of our functions which will enable us as a Commission to be more effective and efficient.”
Issues concerning the Commission’s governance were previously highlighted in 2016.
This resulted in an external review and an almost entirely new board in 2017 with six newly elected commissioners.
Crofting is a system of landholding which is unique to the highlands and islands of Scotland.
Crofts are usually rented and are on average five hectares but can range from less than half a hectare to more than 50ha with many having access to mountainside common grazings.