The Scottish dairy industry lost 46 herds last year, according to the Scottish Dairy Cattle Association (SDCA).
The latest figures from the association show a continued decline in the number of dairy farms in Scotland, with 843 herds in operation on January 1 2021.
The SDCA said this was almost 7,000 fewer herds than 50 years ago and it represented a net loss of 36 herds from January 1 2020, as 10 new herds were established in the year.
Aberdeenshire saw the biggest loss, with 11 herds going out of production, leaving 14 in operation in the region.
This followed dairy giant Muller serving termination notices to 14 of its 26 Aberdeenshire farmer suppliers following a review of its Scottish dairy operations. The number of herds in Angus, Argyllshire and Caithness remained the same at seven, 10 and two respectively.
Orkney lost a herd, leaving it with 16 and two herds ceased production in Shetland, leaving the islands with two.
The number of herds in Inverness, Moray and Ross and Cromarty stayed the same at one, five and one respectively.
Herd numbers were also unchanged in Fife, Kinross-shire, Perthshire and Stirlingshire at 20, three, four and 33 respectively.
SDCA secretary, Janette Mathie, said the figures also showed an increase in the average herd size to 209 – up six on last year – and a 2,152 decline in the total number of milking cows to 176,338.
“The first wave of the pandemic saw demand for milk drop overnight, resulting in a decrease in farmgate prices for some dairy farmers,” added Ms Mathie.
“But resilience has been strong and there is still commitment within Scottish farmers and their families to continue dairy farming along with new dairies due to start milk production in 2021.”
NFU Scotland’s dairy policy manager, Stuart Martin, said: “For some time now the bi-annual figures released by the Scottish Dairy Cattle Association have shown a trend which looks set to continue.
“With the average herd size increasing and a decrease in herd numbers, it is clear to all that the face of dairy farming in Scotland is changing and this in time will have an effect on the whole supply chain from cow to consumer.”