New Scottish census shows 8% rise in poultry numbers

Scottish poultry numbers increased by 8% during the 12 months to June this year, taking the sector above 14 million birds, according to new industry census figures from the Scottish Government.

The all-birds increase of 1.06m million took the total Scottish flock to 14.11m. The census, published today, also shows fowls, laying eggs for eating, up 216,000 (3.5%) on the year to 6.33m while the increase in broiler and other table birds was 840,000 (15%), taking that sector to 6.51m.

“In recent years, the number of broilers has declined, and now only accounts for 46% of the poultry flock,” it is stated in today’s Scottish Government national statistics publication. “Almost as many (45%) are hens and pullets in, or being reared for, the laying flock. Fowls for breeding accounted for 8% while other poultry (including turkeys) made up just under 1% of the total.”

The census commentary also noted the impact of EU Directive 1999/74/EC, which placed minimum requirements on the size and conditions of cage systems when it was introduced in 2012. The Directive subsequently led to a fall in the number of fowls producing eggs in that year’s Scottish census.

“However, the number of fowls producing eggs has risen by 1.86m in the four years since, linked also to a switch from broiler production,” it was stated, pointing out that the number of fowls producing eggs in June 2016 was the highest figure for the last 10 years.

NFU Scotland’s policy manager, Penny Johnston, commented: “The poultry figures are encouraging and it is particularly welcome to see the broiler numbers increase again.

“After a difficult few years, the broiler sector may be stabilising with some hope for a level of regrowth in Scottish chicken sales going forwards.

“For our egg producers, growth is also welcome but a period of change lies ahead as production systems adapt to future retailer demands.”

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