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For more information on this release:
E-mail: Sophie Emerson (+353) 21 453 5453 Lisa Horan (+353) 21 453 5791 Sheila Boland (+353) 21 453 5221
For general information on CSO statistics: (+353) 21 453 5000 On-line ISSN 0791-3133
CSO statistical release, , 11am

Livestock Survey December

December 2020

       Livestock Numbers
  Cattle PigsSheep
% change-

Pig Numbers up 4% in December 2020

Figure 1
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The results of the December 2020 Livestock Survey show that pig numbers increased by 4.0% to 1,678,600. Breeding pigs increased by 2.0% and non-breeding pigs increased by 4.3%. See Table 2.

The provisional estimate for the total number of sheep was 3,862,500, an increase of 53,100 (+1.4%) on December 2019. The number of breeding sheep increased by 58,100 (+2.2%) and other sheep decreased by 5,000 (-0.4%). See Table 3.

The total number of cattle decreased by 30,200 (-0.5%) to 6,529,400. The number of dairy cows increased by 30,300 (+2.1%) while other cows decreased by 34,200 (-3.6%). The total number of cattle under 1 increased by 94,200 (+4.8%) while cattle 2 years and over (excluding cows and bulls) decreased by 85,900 (-19.9%). See Table 1.

Table 1 Number of Cattle
DescriptionDecember 2018December 2019December 2020   Change 2019 - 2020
' 000 ' 000 %
Total cattle6,593.56,559.76,529.4-30.2-0.5
    Dairy cows11,369.11,425.81,456.030.32.1
    Other cows982.3956.9922.7-34.2-3.6
    Bulls253.4 552.0 549.7-2.3-4.4
    Cattle male: 2 years and over3154.5 5170.6 5115.8-54.8-32.1
    Cattle female: 2 years and over4255.2260.9229.7-31.1-11.9
    Cattle male: 1-2 years3803.0 5769.3 5743.0-26.3-3.4
    Cattle female: 1-2 years976.1962.0955.9-6.0-0.6
    Cattle male: under 1 year948.5906.4976.670.27.7
    Cattle female: under 1 year1,051.41,056.01,
  Total cattle male1,959.41,898.21,885.1-13.2-0.7
  Total cattle female4,634.14,661.44,644.4-17.1-0.4
1 Dairy cows are those kept principally to produce milk for human consumption.
2 Bulls used for breeding purposes only.
3 Excluding Bulls.
4 Excluding Dairy cows and Other cows.
5 Revised. See Background Notes
Table 2 Number of Pigs
DescriptionDecember 2018December 2019December 2020   Change 2019 - 2020
' 000 ' 000 %
Total pigs1,572.21,613.31,678.665.34.0
  Breeding pigs143.0145.0147.82.92.0
    Gilts in pig19.
    Sows in pig78.079.381.82.53.1
    Other Sows for breeding29.328.127.3-0.8-2.9
    Gilts not yet served115.316.516.80.31.8
  Other pigs1,429.21,468.31,530.762.44.3
    Pigs 80kg and over259.1288.9326.737.813.1
    Pigs 50kg and under 80kg315.9310.0340.830.89.9
    Pigs 20kg and under 50kg417.3417.8436.318.54.4
    Less than 20kg436.9451.6426.9-24.7-5.5
1 Gilts of at least 50kg liveweight intended for breeding but not yet served.
Table 3 Number of Sheep
DescriptionDecember December December    Change 2019 - 2020
' 000 ' 000 %
Total sheep3,798.53,809.43,862.553.11.4
  Breeding sheep2,690.02,652.92,711.058.12.2
    Ewes: 2 years and over1,980.21,974.12,004.830.71.6
    Ewes: under 2 years627.9596.8621.324.64.1
  Other sheep1,108.51,156.41,151.5-5.0-0.4
1 Provisional.

Background Notes


This release presents estimates for livestock numbers (cattle, sheep and pigs) in December 2020 at State level. The estimates for cattle and sheep are obtained from administrative data from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). Breeding bull data is received quarterly from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF). The estimates for pigs are based on returns from the CSO December Pig Survey.


Cattle: The results for cattle are obtained from DAFM’s Animal Identification and Movement (AIM) system, formerly known as the Cattle Movement Monitoring System (CMMS). This system was introduced at the beginning of 2000 and involves electronically recording data on animal movements. Breeding bull data is received quarterly from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF). The bull data was revised from December 2010 to December 2019 in September 2020. These revisions also resulted in changes to the male cattle 1-2 years and the male cattle 2 years and over categories.

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 2020. The 2020 results from the census are provisional. Final figures will be published on PxStat by the end of May, 2021. Click here for a link to PxStat Table AAA06 Farm Animals in December by Type of Animal showing livestock numbers including sheep. The estimates from December 2017 represent 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 a result of rounding, there may be slight discrepancies between the sum (or difference) of the constituent items and the total shown. Percentage changes have been calculated using actual figures.

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