Dairy Farming 101: 15 Facts about UK Dairy Farming

Have you ever wondered about the journey of your favourite dairy products? Or are you curious about how to address sustainability and other challenges on your own dairy farm?


The dairy farming industry is more than just a source of milk and cheese; it’s a testament to the resilience of the agricultural community, the ingenuity of farmers, and is a major contributor to the UK economy.

Whether you are a consumer curious about the workings of the industry or simply intrigued by the world of agriculture, take a look at our facts about dairy farming – some of them may even surprise you!

Find our facts about the dairy farming industry below..

Dairy Farming Landscape in the UK

1. The main concentration of dairy farms is in South-Western England and West Wales, due to the favourable conditions for grassland farming. Dairy farmers prefer fertile, well-drained soils that yield high-quality grass.

2. After the government’s statistical update in September 2022, it was calculated that farmers and land managers oversee 71% of the UK’s landscape, equivalent to a total of 17.2 million hectares of land. Additionally, the agricultural sector employs nearly half a million people and makes a net contribution of £11.2 billion to the UK economy.

The Milk Market Facts

3. One cup of milk offers all of the nutrients vital for your body’s wellbeing. These include protein, sugars, calcium, Vitamin B12, and Riboflavin!

4. The UK is among the top producers of cow milk worldwide, offering an annual production of around 14 billion liters each year. Semi-skimmed milk is the most popular milk produced from cows, generating the highest sales.

Environmental Impact of Dairy Farming

5. There are many businesses within the agricultural industry, where sustainability is at the core of their strategies. The products that we offer at Platts are crafted to foster a more sustainable farming industry. This is achieved through transforming by-products into versatile animal bedding and establishing a lifecycle that benefits both suppliers and customers.

Responsibly sourced wood products are brought to our Llay site in Wrexham, for manufacturing into final products, which are then dispatched to farmers. You can learn more about our sustainability practices in our Farming a Greener Future feature by ITN Business and the AHDB.

Challenges in UK Dairy Farming

6. The UK dairy farming industry has faced a multitude of challenges over the years. However, one of the most persistent is the fluctuation of milk prices. Over recent years, a decline in demand as led to low farmgate milk prices. This has resulted in many farmers struggling to cover production costs. It is vital that there are collaborative efforts within the industry to tackle this issue, to negotiate better terms with processors and retailers, and to promote milk as a nutritious product, to ensure milk price stability.

7. UK farming often comes under scrutiny for its environmental impact. Farms face many concerns, including greenhouse gas emissions, land use, and water consumption. One way that the UK dairy industry is tackling this is by sharing best practices and resources within the industry, allowing more individuals within the agriculture industry to adopt more sustainable methods.

Innovations in Dairy Farming

8. With over 40 to 50 research projects annually, ForFarmers is prioritising innovation to ensure sustainability and animal welfare. The business focuses on providing sustainable feed and advice to promote healthier livestock, increase efficiency, and improve farm returns. Their in-house feed evaluation system customises feeds based on raw material digestibility and animal age, adapting to changes in genetics, health, and management systems.

9. Here at Platts, we are proud of our own innovations in the dairy industry, and we pride ourselves on being one of the market leaders in animal bedding and crucible conditioners. Our journey began in 1973 when Robert and Christine Platt started hand-bagging and selling shavings in hessian sacks to poultry farmers. They saw an opportunity to foster a more sustainable farming industry and today, we transform manufacturing by-products into versatile animal bedding.

Fun Facts about UK Dairy Farming

10. The Royal Farms at Windsor have their own dairy herds! The milk produced is used for various royal products, including cheese and ice cream. Extra fun fact, did you know that we have been supplying the Royal Farms at Windsor for over 10 years? We support in keeping the Jersey herd in top condition!

11. The Holstein variety is the most popular breed of cow in the UK. They are recognised for their distinctive black and white colouring and are known for their outstanding milk production.

12.  512,000 metric tonnes of cheese are produced annually in the UK, with over 700 varieties of cheese also produced, ranging from traditional cheddars to modern artisanal types!

13. Cows can’t walk downstairs! Why? Well, it’s simple – their knees aren’t made for that kind of moo-vement…

14. The dairy farming industry has ancient roots, with evidence of milk consumption dating back to the Neolithic times (around 7000–6000 BC)!

15. Cows are the ultimate creature of routine! They even have their milking schedules down to a ‘moo-tine’….

Intrigued by the dairy farm industry? Keep an eye out on our social channels, including Facebook and Instagram. We’re about to launch something exciting, where we unite the agriculture industry to share insights and challenges, and celebrate UK dairy farming!


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