Higher Irish livestock population in December

Thursday, 24 March 2022

Central Statistics Office Ireland has recently released livestock population figures from December 2021. This helps paint the picture of available supplies of cattle, sheep and pigs for the coming year.

The number of cattle in Ireland increased by 1.8% to 6.6 million, sheep numbers rose by 2.9% to nearly 4 million, and the number of pigs rose by 2.1% to 1.7 million.


The number of cattle aged two years and over was tighter compared to the same point a year ago, down 4% (-13,800 head). However, the number of cattle aged 1-2 years was 4% (68,000 head) higher, while the number of cattle less than a year old rose by 2.5%.

This increase in cattle supply is expected to boost Irish beef production in 2022, particularly in the second half of the year. Read our analysis as to what this might mean for the UK market.

Dairy cow numbers increased by 3.4% to 1.5 million, while the number of beef cows declined again to 890,000 head.


The number of ewes in Ireland increased by 2.1% year-on-year to 2.7 million head. The increase was driven by more ewes aged two years and over, while the number of ewes aged under two years old fell notably (-18%).

For non-breeding sheep, numbers increased by 5.1% year-on-year to 1.2 million.


Non-breeding pig numbers grew by 2.4% year-on-year to 1.6 million, driven by a 13% increase in the number of pigs under 20kg. Every other weight band contracted in size, particularly those weighing 20kg-50kg.

The number of breeding pigs declined by 1.3%, largely due to a fall in the number of in-pig sows. In-pig gilts also experienced some decline.

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