Poor weather and higher costs could be factors as to why Scotland's number of cattle continues to decrease.
Cattle numbers in Scotland continue to fall according to the latest figures in the Scottish Agricultural Survey released by the Scottish government.
The statistics show that numbers of some livestock continue to decrease and Less Favoured Area rents continue to rise
In December 2018, there were 1.66 million cattle in Scotland, which is 5 percent lower than the ten-year average and a drop of 2 percent on 1.69 million from the previous year.
The number of cattle has fallen in both the beef and dairy sectors over the past year. Beef fell by 1 per cent and dairy by 2 per cent.
There was also a 3 per cent drop in the number of calves.
The report points to poor weather which may have impacted cattle numbers over the past year.
For example, the long period of warm weather reduced the amount of grass grown for feed.
The shortage of feed during the warm summer has also led to higher costs. Farmers may have slaughtered cattle earlier or in higher numbers to save on costs.
Donald Cameron, Scottish Conservative shadow rural secretary, said the figures show that farmers are being hit 'hard'.
“Sadly these figures do not show the kind of growth and dynamism that we would like to see in the Scottish farming sector.”
He added: “It is therefore crucial that the SNP government gets appropriate and long term funding in place for the sector to ensure stability and security post Brexit.”