Dairy Farming in Scotland

Text: Maria Garcia Villanova, Audio: Matthew Lament, Sashana Souza Zanella, Ben Reade

Dairy Farming in Scotland

Sheep, goats and cattle were milked in Scotland since domestic animals were first introduced around the fourth millennium BC. Samuel Johnson (Boswell, 1785) mentioned the milking of sheep and goats in his tour to the Hebrides. The milking of ewes declined with the Clearances, and although it lasted longer in the Highlands by 1800, obtaining milk from ewes was more anecdotic than anything else, except for in the Lammermuirs and the head of Annandale (Fenton, 1987).

With the decline of ewe's milk, cows remained as the main milk producer, and it is the milk referred to in most historical references and recipes.

Among the Scottish cattle breeds used to produce dairy, Ayrshire is the most widely used. It comes from Ayrshire, in the Southwest of Scotland and was developed during the eighteenth century. Its potential to produce milk from mediocre fodder meant it was capable to answer a big demand (Fenton, 1987).

During a research trip in North Ayrshire Sashana and Ben were lucky enough to record a conversation about dairy farming with Matthew Lament - hear one of the voices of Scotland's foodscape.


BOSWELL, J. (1785) The journal of a tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson. Yale University Press. ISBN: 9780300052107. 

FENTON, A. (1987) Country life in Scotland. John Donald Publishers Ltd. ISBN: 9781862320666.