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Thursday 15 November 2018

Farming in Scotland hit by poor weather over past year

New statistics revealed the impact of the Beast from the East.

New figures show lambing was impacted, with sheep population dropping to a five-year low (Paul Faith/PA)
New figures show lambing was impacted, with sheep population dropping to a five-year low (Paul Faith/PA)

Lynsey Bews

Farming in Scotland was hit by poor weather over the last year, resulting in falls in sheep and cattle numbers.

New figures show lambing was impacted by the Beast from the East snow storm in February, with the sheep population dropping to a five-year low.

The total sheep count dropped by 6pc or 392,000, with lamb numbers falling by 8pc.

Cattle numbers also declined slightly, dropping by 2% to 1.76 million, continuing a long-term decline.

Poor weather is thought to have had an impact, with the long 2017/18 winter period draining livestock farmers’ feed stocks.

The figures, published in the June 2018 Agricultural Census, also show adverse weather caused a drop in the total amount of cereals and oilseeds planted in Scotland.

Barley, Scotland’s biggest crop, fell by 1%, while the second biggest, wheat, dropped by 9% over the past year.

Elsewhere the total area used to grow soft fruit in Scotland increased.

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The area rose by 2% to 2,100 hectares in June 2018, with strawberries the most popular fruit.

The statistics also show the number of people estimated to be working in agriculture has decreased slightly by 400 to 66,600.

Agriculture continues to dominate the Scottish landscape with around 80% of the area used for farming and agriculture-related activity.

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