As of December 2017, the Irish national sheep flock stood at just over 3.9 million head, provisional figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show.

Working off data from the 2017 Sheep and Goat Census, the provisional figures indicate that there were over 2.74 million breeding sheep in Ireland as of December 2017.

When extrapolated further, the Irish national sheep flock consisted of 2.1 million ewes that were two years and over, 516,200 ewes under two years and 80,800 rams.

Other sheep – lambs and hoggets in other words – accounted for the remainder of the 1.158 million animals recorded under the census on Irish farms.

Last week, the CSO also released slaughter data for 2018. It noted that sheep slaughterings in February 2018 had climbed by 7.1% when compared to the same period in 2017.

When January and February’s kill data was studied, it found that sheep slaughterings had jumped by 7.9% when compared to the corresponding period last year.