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Irish cattle numbers slip, sheep numbers rise

17 March 2020


The latest Irish census showed fewer cattle on the ground year-on-year in December, while breeding ewe numbers rose.

 According to Central Statistics Office Ireland, total cattle numbers declined by 33,800 head (-0.5%) from December 2018 to total 6.6 million head. Despite this, the breeding herd increased by 31,300 head on the year, mostly driven by an expansion in the dairy herd.

While numbers of young female cattle rose by 27,300 head on the year, this was outweighed by a 61,200 head fall in the number of prime male cattle on the ground. Similar to Great Britain, there was a year-on-year decline in the number of Irish cattle aged 1-2 years. This could potentially show up in production figures as these animals come forward for slaughter.

Conversely, the Irish sheep flock recorded year-on-year growth, of 109,800 head (+2.9%) to 3.9 million head. The number of breeding ewes over 2 years old rose by 46,600 head, while younger ewes recorded a decline.


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