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Farm Structure

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X-axis labelCattleSheepPigsPoultry
  • June livestock populations have increased for cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry from 2010 to 2020.
  • Poultry had the highest percentage increase with 16.5 million birds in 2020, a 50.8% increase on 2010. The poultry population has never been as large as in 2020.
  • The number of sheep rose by 775,000, an increase of 16.3% between 2010 and 2020. 
  • The number of cattle increased by 10.7% from 6.6 million in 2010 to just over 7.3 million in 2020. 
  • Between 2000 and 2010 the number of pigs decreased from 1.7 million to 1.5 million. This was followed by a 4.4% increase between 2010 and 2020; there were just below 1.6 million pigs in 2020. 
Table 2.1 Principal totals, Censuses of Agriculture (1991 - 2020)

  • The total Agricultural Area Utilised (AAU) on farms in Ireland has been over 4.5 million hectares since 2010. There was a slight increase from 1991 to 2010 and AAU fell to 4,509,256 (-1.3%) in 2020.
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Dublin Waterford
Largest average Agricultural Area Utilised
Map 2.1 Average agricultural area utilised by county in 2020
  • Darker red colours indicate counties that had larger average AAU, lighter red to white colours indicate counties that typically had smaller average AAU.
  • Border counties and counties in the West had lower AAU than counties in the south, midlands and east. 
  • Dublin (47.3 hectares), Waterford (47.0 hectares) and Kilkenny (45.7 hectares) had larger average AAU than other counties. 
  • Monaghan (23.2 hectares), Mayo (23.4 hectares) and Leitrim (25.5 hectares) had smaller average AAU than other counties.
Mayo Monaghan
Smallest average Agricultural Area Utilised
Table 2.2 Number of farms by region, county and farm size, 2020

Specialist Dairying - Map 2.2

  • In five counties in the Southern NUTS 2 region, more than one in every five farms was classified as Specialist Dairying. Those counties were: Cork (27.7%), Waterford (26.5%), Kilkenny (23.5%), Limerick (23.5%) and Tipperary (21.5%). 
  • Most counties in the Northern and Western NUTS 2 region had fewer than 5% of farms classified as Specialist Dairying; exceptions were Cavan and Monaghan where more than 10% of farms were involved in Specialist Dairying. 

Specialist Beef Production - Map 2.3

  • The prevalence of Specialist Beef Production varies from 27.5% of farms in Wicklow to 81.1% in Clare.
  • Fourteen counties had over half of farms classified as Specialist Beef Production. 
  • Seven of these had at least two thirds of farms in the Specialist Beef Production category: Clare (81.1%), Longford (78.6%), Roscommon (71.7%), Cavan (68.3%), Westmeath (68.2%), Monaghan (67.1%) and Galway (66.5%).

Specialist Sheep - Map 2.4

  • Specialist Sheep farms were prominent in the Border, West, South-West and Mid-East NUTS 3 regions. 
  • Donegal (44.9%), Wicklow (30.1%), Mayo (24.2%) and Kerry (20.4%) were the only counties with over 20% of farms classified as Specialist Sheep.
Table 2.3 Number of farms by region, county and farm type, 2020

X-axis label100 ha +50 - 100 ha30 - 50 ha20 - 30 ha10 - 20 haLess than 10 ha
Specialist Dairying13.743.729.
Mixed Crops and Livestock16.332.627.313.28.12.4
Specialist Tillage16.9262114.112.99.3
Mixed Grazing Livestock7.2232816.515.99.5
Specialist Beef Production1.59.720.820.928.218.9
Specialist Sheep4.
Mixed Field Crops1.
  • In each of the three categories, Specialist Dairying, Mixed Crops and Livestock, and Specialist Tillage, more than 40% of farms were over 50 hectares. The proportion over 50 hectares was 57.5% for Specialist Dairying, 48.9% for Mixed Crops and Livestock, and 42.9% for Specialist Tillage.
  • In Specialist Tillage, a sixth of farms had over 100 hectares Agricultural Area Utilised.
  • In each of Specialist Beef Production and Specialist Sheep, more than 45% of farms were less than 20 hectares. The proportion under 20 hectares was 47.1% for Specialist Beef Production and 57.0% for Specialist Sheep.
  • Farms in the Mixed Field Crops and Other categories had the smallest average areas, with more than 50% of farms below 10 hectares in these two categories.
Table 2.4 Number of farms by farm type and farm size, 2020

Go to: Demographic Profile of Farm Holders