The results of the 2019 National Pig Census have revealed that the total recorded pig numbers for 2019 reflects a decrease of 80,225 pigs or 4.7% when compared to the figures recorded for the 2018 national herd.

The census – which was conducted by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine – reveals that in 2019, the national herd consisted of 1,631 active herds containing 1,644,121 pigs.

The average number of pigs kept on an active pig herd last year was 1,008 pigs which shows a slight decrease on the average of 1,025 pigs per active herd in 2018.

A breakdown of the pig population In Ireland – as of Sunday, October 13, 2019 – is as follows:
  • 141,622 breeding pigs;
  • 1,501,791 fattening pigs;
  • 708 non-production pigs.

A total of 1,190 or 72.9% of registered pig herds recorded keeping 20 or fewer pigs.

Meanwhile, 39 herds – or 2.4% – kept in excess of 10,000 pigs, accounting for 36.8% of the total pig population (604,953).

According to the census, a total of 279 herds nationwide house 96.7% of all pigs recorded – each keeping more than 1,000 pigs.

Pig herds of between 501 and 1,000 pigs accounted for only 2.06% of the pig population (33,759 pigs).

63.4% of total active herd numbers account for 0.1% of the pig population – or 1,522 pigs.

1,042 respondents keep five pigs or less. Such herds represented 63.4% of total active herd numbers.

The National Pig Census forms part of The Diseases of Animals Act 1966 (National Pig Identification and Tracing System) (Amendment) Order 2010 (S.I. 364 of 2010).

This requires any person who keeps any pigs to at least annually conduct a census on his/her holding, at a time determined by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Returns were received from 2,692 pig keepers, representing a response rate of 88.9%.

Herd keepers were informed that registered herds that had recorded no pigs being kept in either 2018 or 2019 would be made inactive on the department’s systems, as would herds from which no return was received in respect of Census 2019.

The information presented in the report relates to data returned from the country’s 1,631 active pig herds, as provided to the department by mid-January 2020.