CSO livestock survey shows dairy herd continues to grow

Total cattle numbers fell by 1.2% in December 2018 compared to the same month of 2017 – largely as a result of a drop in the amount of non-dairy cows.

The figures come from the livestock survey for that month, carried out by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

Reflecting the growth in the dairy sector, the number of those cows increased by 1.9%, while numbers for all other cows decreased by 3.5%.

  • All cattle: decreased by 80,100 to 6,593,500;
  • Dairy cows: increased by 25,800 to 1,369,100;
  • Other cows: decreased by 36,000 to 982,300.

Looking at the age breakdown, the numbers of cattle under one year decreased by 86,600, for a drop of 4.2%, while numbers of animals aged two years and over (excluding cows and bulls) increased by 23,500 (5.6%).

In terms of the sex breakdown, there were 1,959,400 male cattle and 4,634,100 female cattle in December 2018 – drops of 2.9% and 0.5% respectively – compared to December 2017.


Sheep numbers in December 2018 were 6% lower than 12 months previously, according to the CSO’s figures.

The total number of sheep in the country in the final month of 2018 was 3,743,500, a decrease of 238,300 from December 2017; the number of non-breeding sheep fell by 11.2%, for a decrease of 131,900.

Meanwhile, the number of breeding sheep dropped by 3.8%; a decrease of 106,400.


The CSO’s figures show that pig numbers decreased by 2.7% to 1,572,200 in December 2018.

Compared to December 2017, the numbers of breeding pigs decreased by 4.8%, while non-breeding pigs decreased by 2.5%.