Welsh crop and livestock figures show big fall

Welsh livestock numbers and crop production fell significantly in 2008. The total number of sheep declined from 6.11m to 5.47m, a drop of 10%, including an 8% fall in breeding ewes and ewe lambs.

When the December 2008 census was taken there were 885,000 lambs under one year old, or 19% fewer than in the same month in 2007, a change which contributed to strong end of year market prices.

Cattle and calf numbers fell by 2% to 1.11m, and the number of dairy breed females over two years old was 3% lower at 280,000 head.

The total number of non-dairy breed females over two years old dropped by 5% to 227,000. While there were 3% more dairy breed heifers between one and two years old the figure for non-dairy females dropped by 4%.

The Welsh pig herd continued to decline with the number of breeding pigs down 22% to 3000 head.

Welsh farmers also had also sown 16% less land to autumn and winter wheat. The area down to winter barley was 20% smaller.

Hay making was less popular in 2008 with 223,000t conserved, compared with 294,000t the year before and 364,000t in 2006.

Grass silage production did not increase in response with 4.657m tonnes ensiled, a fall of 4%, though 501,000t of silage was made from other crops – a rise of 10%.

The figures, collected from just over 3200 of the 38,500 holdings in Wales, support claims by farming unions and Hybu Cig Cymru (Meat Promotion Wales) that the Welsh industry is in danger of losing critical mass.

Even before the statistics were published HCC chairman, Rees Roberts, warned that any further decline in livestock numbers would undermine efforts to boost export sales of branded Welsh lamb and beef.

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