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For more information on this release:
E-mail: Paul Deane (+353) 21 453 5560 Angela Hickey (+353) 21 453 5316
For general information on CSO statistics: (+353) 21 453 5000 Visit, the portal to Ireland's official statistics On-line ISSN 0791-3133
CSO statistical release, 09 March 2018, 11am

Livestock Survey December

December 2017

       Livestock Numbers 
  Cattle   Pigs
% change+0.9+5.8

Cattle Numbers up 0.9% in December 2017

Figure 1
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The results of the December 2017 Livestock Survey show that the total number of cattle was 6,673,600 an increase of 60,200 (+0.9%) on December 2016. The number of Dairy cows increased by 48,100 (+3.7%), while Other cows decreased by 23,700 (-2.3%). Cattle 2 years and over (excluding cows and bulls) increased by 18,400 (+4.6%). See Table 1.

The total number of pigs increased by 5.8% to 1,616,400. Non-breeding pigs increased by 6.2%, while breeding pigs increased by 2.4%. See Table 2.

Estimates for sheep in 2017 are now based on data from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) National Sheep & Goat Census undertaken in December 2017.  The provisional estimates from the census show that the total number of sheep was 3,900,800, with 2,742,300 breeding sheep and 1,158,400 non-breeding sheep. See Table 3.

See Background Notes for further details on DAFM National Sheep & Goat Census and the break in series in respect of sheep.
Table 1 Number of Cattle
DescriptionDecember 2015December 2016December 2017   Change 2016 - 2017
' 000 ' 000 %
Total cattle6,422.26,613.46,673.660.20.9 
    Dairy cows 11,239.91,295.21,343.348.13.7 
    Other cows1,053.21,042.01,018.3-23.7-2.3 
    Bulls 228.719.512.8-6.6-34.1 
    Cattle male: 2 years and over173.5162.7172.69.86.0 
    Cattle female: 2 years and over241.3239.3247.98.53.6 
    Cattle male: 1-2 years762.6824.5823.2-1.3-0.2 
    Cattle female: 1-2 years897.3953.6969.015.41.6 
    Cattle male: under 1 year982.01,011.31,008.6-2.6-0.3 
    Cattle female: under 1 year1,043.71,065.31,077.912.61.2 
  Total cattle male1,946.92,018.02,017.2-0.80.0 
  Total cattle female4,475.44,595.54,656.460.91.3 
1 Dairy cows are those kept principally to produce milk for human consumption.
2 Bulls used for breeding purposes only.
Table 2 Number of Pigs
DescriptionDecember 2015December 2016December 2017   Change 2016 - 2017
' 000 ' 000 %
Total pigs1,474.51,527.81,616.488.65.8
  Breeding pigs140.1146.6150.23.62.4
    Gilts in pig19.918.820.61.89.4
    Sows in pig78.478.984.75.87.3
    Other Sows for breeding26.032.028.9-3.1-9.8
    Gilts not yet served 114.615.714.8-0.9-5.7
  Other pigs1,334.41,381.21,466.285.06.2
    Pigs 80kg and over239.2259.6276.516.96.5
    Pigs 50kg and under 80kg290.3285.5322.637.113.0
    Pigs 20kg and under 50kg396.9409.9417.27.31.8
    Less than 20kg408.0426.2449.923.75.6
1 Gilts of at least 50kg liveweight intended for breeding but not yet served.
Table 3 Number of Sheep
DescriptionDecember 20171
Total sheep3,900.8
  Breeding sheep2,742.3
    Ewes: 2 years and over2,145.4
    Ewes: under 2 years516.2
  Other sheep1,158.4
1 Provisional. New Series from 2017 see Background Notes.

Background Notes


This release presents estimates for livestock numbers (cattle, sheep and pigs) in December 2017 at State level. The estimates for cattle and sheep are obtained from administrative data from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). The 2017 sheep estimates represents a new series as this data was previously sourced from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) December Livestock Sample Survey of agricultural holdings. The estimates for pigs are based on returns from the CSO December Pig Survey.


Cattle: The results for cattle are obtained from DAFM Animal Identification and Movement (AIM) system. This system was introduced at the beginning of 2000 and involves electronically recording data on animal movements.

Pigs: A specialist pig survey was conducted by the CSO due to the intensive nature of this activity.

Sheep: The December 2017 estimates for sheep are obtained from DAFM National Sheep & Goat Census undertaken on 31st December 2017 and is a break in the data series previously published. The results from the census are provisional and final figures will be published on our StatBank by the end of May, 2018. Click here for a link to StatBank Table AAA06 Farm Animals in December by Type of Animal showing livestock numbers including sheep.

The DAFM National Sheep and Goat Census is carried out under EU Regulation 21/2004 which obliges member states to carry out a census of sheep and goats annually. The first census took place in 2005.


Rounding: As the figures in the text have been rounded to the nearest 100 units there may be slight discrepancies between the sum (or difference) of the constituent items and the total shown.

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