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Key Findings

Table 1.1 - Number of farms, Average Farm Size and Average Standard Output, by Region
 StateBorder Midland & WestSouthern & Eastern
Total Farms ('000s)137.572.565.0
Average Farm Size (ha)32.427.138.3
Average Standard Output €45,855€28,935€64,734
  • In 2016 there were 137,500 farms in Ireland. More than half (52.7%) of all farms were located in the Border, Midland and Western (BMW) region.
  • The average farm was 32.4 hectares.
  • Farms in the Southern and Eastern (SE) region were 41.3% larger than those in the BMW region, with an average farm size of 38.3 hectares compared to 27.1 hectares.
X-axis labelBorder, Midland and WesternSouthern and Eastern
< 10 hectares15.810.4
10 - < 20 hectares20.612.9
20 - < 30 hectares13.610.7
30 - < 50 hectares13.914.9
50 - < 100 hectares7.212.6
> = 100 hectares1.43.4
10 - < 2020.612.9
20 - < 3013.610.7
30 - < 5013.914.9
50 - < 1007.212.6
> = 1001.43.5
  • Almost one in five of all farms (18.0%) were 50 hectares or more in size while just over two in five farms (43.4%) had less than 20 hectares.
  • Over 60% of farms of 10 hectares or less were in the BMW region, while almost 70% of farms of 100 hectares or more were in the SE region.
  • Specialist Beef production continued to be the most common farm type or activity, accounting for over half of all farms in 2016 (78,300).
  • Over two thirds of Specialist Sheep farms were in the BMW region (68.2%), while the SE Region contained almost 80% of Specialist Tillage farms (78.7%) and Specialist Dairying farms (78.3%).
  • Specialist Beef production was more common in the BMW, where it accounted for almost six in ten of all farms (58.7%). In contrast under half (41.3%) of farms in the SE region were engaged in Specialist Beef production.
Farms by Type
Specialist Tillage3.4
Specialist Dairying11.7
Specialist Beef Production57
Specialist Sheep11
Mixed and other Farm Types16.9
Farms by Type
Mixed grazing livestock8.4
Mixed crops and livestock1.5
Mixed field crops6
Other 0.9
X-axis labelStandard Output
Border, Midland and West28935
South and East64734
Mid-East and Dublin65483
  • Average Standard Output per farm was €45,855 in 2016. Standard output is the average monetary value of agricultural output at farm-gate prices. (See Background Notes)
  • Standard Output in the SE Region was just under €65,000, more than twice that of the BMW Region (€28,935).
  • The largest level of output was in the South-East region (€80,784) while the lowest was recorded in the West (€19,683).
  • A total of 23,200 farms had an SO of less than €4,000, 60% of which were in the BMW region. In contrast, more than 70% of the 28,100 farms with an SO of €50,000 or more were in the SE region.
Table 1.2 - Number of farms, number of animals and average number of animals per farm in each region - 2016
 Number of farmsNumber of animalsAverage animals per farm
Border, Midland and West
Southern and Eastern
  • In 2016 there were 7.2 million cattle in Ireland, 63% of which were located in the SE Region.
  • Of the 1.4 million dairy cows in 2016, 80% were in the SE Region.
  • There was a total of 5.1 million sheep in Ireland in 2016. More than half (55.7%) were located in the BMW Region.
  • The highest number of sheep was in the West with just over 1.4 million, representing more than one quarter of the total national flock (27.3%).
  • In 2016 there were 1.6 million pigs in Ireland. Almost one third of these were located in the Border.
  • Ireland had more than 11 million poultry in 2016. The vast majority of these (71.6%) were located in the BMW Region with the Border having the greatest concentration (7.68 million birds or 69.5% of the total).
Table 1.3 - Comparison of Structure of farming in Ireland 2013 - 2016
 20132016% change
Total farms139,600137,500-1.50%
Average farm size (hectares)32.532.4-0.3%
Average standard output (€)35,91245,85527.7%
Total UAA (hectares)4,536,4004,455,800-1.8%
Total Cattle6,902,6007,222,1004.6%
Total Sheep4,942,2005,140,4004.0%
Total Pigs1,551,7001,603,9003.4%
Total Poultry10,133,20011,053,0009.1%
Total Labour Input (AWU)166,700160,700-3.6%
  • The number of farms and the average farm size remained relatively stable between 2013 and 2016.
  • The average standard output increased by 27.7% in the three-year period, from €35,912 to €45,855.
  • There were increases in the total number of cattle (+4.6%), sheep (+4.0%) and pigs (+3.4%).
  • The total number of poultry in the country increased by 9.1% to 11,053,000 birds.
  • The total labour input decreased by 3.6% between 2013 and 2016 to 160,700 Annual Work Units (AWU). One AWU is 1,800 hours or more of labour input per person per annum.


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