Livestock populations in England at 1 June 2022 (2023)

Livestock populations in England at 1 June 2022 (1)

© Crown copyright 2023

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This release contains the estimates of cattle, sheep, pig and poultry populations on commercial agricultural holdings in England on 1 June 2022 from the June Survey of Agriculture. These results are being released earlier than usual in order to meet industry need.

The result tables are available at Livestock populations in England 2002 to 2022. This dataset contains detailed breakdowns for all livestock, including poultry and other livestock.

Key Points

  • The total number of cattle and calves in England is 5.1 million in June 2022. The breeding herd saw a decrease of 1.3% and now stands at 1.7 million
  • In 2022, the total number of pigs in England decreased by 3.0% to just over 4.1 million animals. Breeding pigs decreased by 18%, while fattening pigs fell by 1.4%
  • The total number of sheep and lambs increased by 2.0%, to 14.9 million in 2022. The female breeding flock increased by 2.9% to 7.1 million and lambs increased by 1.5% to 7.5 million.
  • The total number of poultry decreased by 1.6% to 139 million in 2022. Broiler numbers saw a small decrease of 0.5%, to just over 97 million and the breeding and laying flock fell by 2.6% to almost 33 million.

Section 1 – Detailed results

1.1 Cattle

The number of cattle and calves in England has decreased by 0.7% between 2021 and 2022 and now stands at 5.1 million animals.

Figure 1 - Breakdown of the female cattle breeding herd: 2018 to 2022 (Number of cattle)

year Beef herd Dairy herd Total
2018 711,692 1,142,874 1,854,566
2019 698,586 1,130,504 1,829,090
2020 688,292 1,111,664 1,799,956
2021 665,336 1,102,062 1,767,398
2022 650,836 1,093,845 1,744,681

The breeding herd has decreased slightly, falling by 1.3% to 1.7 million animals in 2022 but continues to account for just over a third of the overall total number of cattle in England. The dairy herd fell by 0.7% and now stands at just under 1.1 million animals, accounting for just under two thirds of the breeding herd. The beef herd has also decreased, falling by 2.2% to 651 thousand animals (Figure 1).

1.2 Pigs

The number of pigs in England has decreased by 3.0% to just over 4.1 million in 2022. This is largely driven by an 18% fall in the number of breeding pigs.

The female breeding herd account for almost 80% of breeding pigs and decreased by 17%, falling to 261 thousand. This is the lowest it has been in the past twenty years and large decreases were seen across all categories (Figure 2). Other breeding pigs also saw a decrease in 2022, falling by 24% from 90 to 68 thousand animals.

Figure 2 - Breakdown of the female pig breeding herd: 2018 to 2022 (Number of pigs)

year Sows in pig Gilts in pig Other sows Total
2018 231,512 43,765 51,327 326,604
2019 234,028 42,910 50,129 327,067
2020 232,430 41,496 44,924 318,850
2021 220,915 40,032 52,050 312,997
2022 189,301 28,860 42,646 260,807

(1) Other sows are those either being suckled or dry sows kept for further breeding.

Fattening pigs account for 92% of all pigs and stood at almost 3.8 million in 2022. Although this was a decrease of 1.4% when compared with 2021, this is still higher than in recent years.

1.3 Sheep

The number of sheep and lambs in England has increased by 2.0%, to just over 14.9 million in 2022.

Lambs account for half of all sheep and increased by 1.5% to around 7.5 million. The female breeding flock accounts for a further 47% of all sheep and also saw an increase in 2022, rising by 2.9% to 7.1 million sheep (Figure 3).

Figure 3 - Breakdown of the total sheep: 2018 to 2022 (Number of sheep)

year Female breeding flock Other sheep and lambs Total
2018 7,382,613 8,268,006 15,650,619
2019 7,233,785 8,156,199 15,389,984
2020 6,977,348 8,049,425 15,026,773
2021 6,873,017 7,753,215 14,626,232
2022 7,071,821 7,849,786 14,921,607

1.4 Poultry

The number of poultry in England has decreased by 1.6% to 139 million in 2022. The number of breeding and laying fowl decreased by 2.6% to 32.6 million whereas the number of table chickens (broilers) showed a smaller decrease, falling by 0.5% to 97.3 million.

Section 2 – About these statistics

2.1 Survey methodology

Full details of the survey methodology are available on the Structure of the agricultural industry guidance web page.The June Survey of Agriculture and Horticulture has been run predominantly online since 2011, with an option for farmers to complete a paper form if they prefer. The survey is annual and samples around 30,000 holdings most years, with a full census run once a decade. The last census was run in 2021.

The June 2022 survey was sent to a sample of 30,000 commercial holdings and responses were received from 17,600 holdings, representing a response rate of almost 60%. Commercial holdings are defined as those with more than five hectares of agricultural land, one hectare of orchards, 0.5 hectares of vegetables or 0.1 hectares of protected crops, or more than 10 cows, 50 pigs, 20 sheep, 20 goats or 1,000 poultry.

Table 1 provides details of the sample survey population broken down by farm size. The size of a farm is determined by its Standard Labour Requirement (SLR) which is the typical number of full-time workers required on the holding based on its activity.

Table 1: June 2022 population size and sampling rate

Stratum Description Sampling rate (%) Population size
1 SLR < 0.5 12% 51,142
2 SLR >= 0.5 and < 1 20% 14,397
3 SLR >= 1 and < 2 35% 13,485
4 SLR >= 2 and < 3 51% 7,190
5 SLR >= 3 and < 5 70% 7,011
6 SLR >= 5 83% 7,658
10 SLR unknown 27% 5,739
All 28% 106,622

For pig and poultry sectors, an additional data collection exercise was run to collect data from a central point for some of the largest companies. Cattle results are sourced from the Cattle Tracing System (CTS). The data include returns from all holdings with cattle so are not subject to survey error.

2.2 Data analysis

The data are subject to rigorous validation checks which identify inconsistencies within the data or large year-on-year changes. Any records that have not been cleaned by the results production stage are excluded from the analysis.Population totals are estimated for each question on the survey to account for the non-sampled and non-responding holdings. This survey uses the technique known as ratio raising, in which the trend between the sample data and base data (previous year’s data) is calculated for each stratum. The calculated ratio is then applied to the previous year’s population data to give England level estimates. For holdings where we do not have base data (new holdings or long-term non-responders) the sample estimates are raised according to the inverse sampling fraction.

2.3 Confidence indicators

Confidence intervals and tick based indicators are shown alongside all of our estimated figures and can be found in the data tables within the dataset. These both help to show where there is more variability around results and highlight whether year-on-year changes are statistically significant or not. Whilst these are a useful indicator, they do not take into account any other sources of survey errors, such as non-response bias or administrative data errors.

2.4 Data notes

  • All figures relate to commercial holdings apart from the cattle figures which relate to all holdings as these data are sourced from the Cattle Tracing Scheme.
  • All percentage changes are based on unrounded figures.
  • Totals may not necessarily agree with the sum of their components due to rounding.

2.5 Data uses and users

Results from the June Survey of Agriculture and Horticulture have a wide range of uses and users with requests for data being made on a frequent basis. A document providing information of specific uses and users can be found on our guidance and notes.

2.6 Other survey results and publications

The next releases from the June Survey are expected to be at the end of September. The definitive publication date will be announced on the research and statistics webpage on detailed results from the June Survey can be found on our Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June web page. This includes various time series of crop areas and livestock numbers dating back as early as 1866 and detailed geographical breakdowns of the results.

2.7 Feedback

We welcome feedback and any thoughts to improve the publication further. Please send any feedback to:

Section 3 - What you need to know about this release

Contact details

Responsible statistician: Sarah Thompson

Team: Farming Statistics – Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs


Tel: 0300 060 0170

National Statistics Status

National Statistics status means that our statistics meet the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality and public value and it is our responsibility to maintain compliance with these standards.

The continued designation of these statistics as National Statistics was confirmed in 2014 following a full assessment by the UK Statistics Authority against the Code of Practice for Statistics.

Since the last review of these statistics in 2014, we have continued to comply with the Code of Practice for Statistics, and have made improvements including:

  • Reviewed and amended the validation checks carried out on response data including validation against new administrative data sources to better assure ourselves of the quality of the statistics.
  • Enhanced trustworthiness by removing pre-release access

For general enquiries about National Statistics, contact the National Statistics Public Enquiry Service:

Tel: 0845 601 3034


You can find National Statistics on the internet on the GOV.UK website.

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