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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 On-line ISSN 0791-3133
CSO statistical release, , 11am

Livestock Survey December

December 2018

       Livestock Numbers
  Cattle PigsSheep
% change-1.2-2.7-6.0

Sheep Numbers down 6.0% in December 2018

Figure 1
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The results of the December 2018 Livestock Survey shows that the provisional estimate for the total number of sheep was 3,743,500 a decrease of 238,300 (-6.0%) on December 2017. The number of non-breeding sheep decreased by 131,900 (-11.2%) and breeding sheep decreased by 106,400 (-3.8%). See Table 3.

Further comparisons with the December 2017 results indicate that:

  • The total number of cattle decreased by 80,100 (-1.2%) to 6,593,500. See Table 1.
  • The number of dairy cows increased by 25,800 (+1.9%) while other cows decreased by 36,000 (-3.5%). See Table 1.
  • The total number of cattle under 1 decreased by 86,600 (-4.2%) while cattle 2 years and over (excluding cows and bulls) increased by 23,500 (+5.6%). See Table 1.
  • Pig numbers decreased by 2.7% to 1,572,200. Breeding pigs decreased by 4.8% and non-breeding pigs decreased by 2.5%. See Table 2.
Table 1 Number of Cattle
DescriptionDecember 2016December 2017December 2018   Change 2017 - 2018
' 000 ' 000 %
Total cattle6,613.46,673.66,593.5-80.1-1.2
    Dairy cows 11,295.21,343.31,369.125.81.9
    Other cows1,042.01,018.3982.3-36.0-3.5
    Bulls 219.512.88.6-4.3-33.2
    Cattle male: 2 years and over162.7172.6188.716.19.3
    Cattle female: 2 years and over239.3247.9255.27.43.0
    Cattle male: 1-2 years824.5823.2813.6-9.6-1.2
    Cattle female: 1-2 years953.6969.0976.17.10.7
    Cattle male: under 1 year1,011.31,008.6948.5-60.1-6.0
    Cattle female: under 1 year1,065.31,077.91,051.4-26.5-2.5
  Total cattle male2,018.02,017.21,959.4-57.8-2.9
  Total cattle female4,595.54,656.44,634.1-22.3-0.5
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 2016December 2017December 2018   Change 2017 - 2018
' 000 ' 000 %
Total pigs1,527.81,616.41,572.2-44.2-2.7
  Breeding pigs146.6150.2143.0-7.2-4.8
    Gilts in pig18.820.619.1-1.5-7.1
    Sows in pig78.984.778.0-6.7-7.9
    Other Sows for breeding32.028.929.30.41.3
    Gilts not yet served 115.714.815.30.53.6
  Other pigs1,381.21,466.21,429.2-37.0-2.5
    Pigs 80kg and over259.6276.5259.1-17.4-6.3
    Pigs 50kg and under 80kg285.5322.6315.9-6.7-2.1
    Pigs 20kg and under 50kg409.9417.2417.30.10.0
    Less than 20kg426.2449.9436.9-13.0-2.9
1 Gilts of at least 50kg liveweight intended for breeding but not yet served.
Table 3 Number of Sheep
DescriptionDecember 20171December 20182    Change 2017 - 2018
' 000 ' 000 %
Total sheep3,981.83,743.5-238.3-6.0
  Breeding sheep2,809.02,702.6-106.4-3.8
    Ewes: 2 years and over1,995.11,967.9-27.2-1.4
    Ewes: under 2 years728.2654.5-73.7-10.1
  Other sheep1,172.81,040.9-131.9-11.2
1 New Series from 2017 see Background Notes.
2 Provisional.

Background Notes


This release presents estimates for livestock numbers (cattle, sheep and pigs) in December 2018 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 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 estimates for sheep are obtained from DAFM National Sheep & Goat Census undertaken on 31st December 2018. The 2018 results from the census are provisional. Final figures will be published on our StatBank by the end of May, 2019. Click here for a link to StatBank Table AAA06 Farm Animals in December by Type of Animal showing livestock numbers including sheep. The December 2017 estimates represents a break in the data series previously published.

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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