Ireland currently has approximately 3.3m sheep, the latest figures from Eurostat show. This is almost 1.2m less sheep than there was in the country 10 years ago in 2004.
The figures show that this number has not changed much from last year, when the number was at 3.3m with a few thousand in the difference. The figures show that Ireland’s sheep population has been in decline since 2003, when the number was 4.8m.
Since 2003 the number continued to decline and in 2010 the population was 3.1 million; its lowest in the 11 year period between 2003 and 2014. The figures show that this is a drop of over 1.5m sheep in seven years.
Ireland has a lower sheep population than Spain, Italy, Greece, France, Romania, Turkey and the UK, the Eurostat figures show. The UK is the second highest producer in Europe with the latest number at 23m while the highest sheep producer in Europe is Turkey with 31.1m, Eurostat says.
Furthermore, in the last 11 years, the figures show that UK numbers have not dropped below 21m while the number in Turkey has increased by 4m over the past three years.
Spanish sheep production has seen a decline in the past 11 years. In 2003 the number of sheep in the country was 23.4m, this number has decreased in 2014 to 15.9m. The figures show that in the past 11 years the sheep numbers in France have decreased by almost 2m.
Countries such as Lithuania, Cyprus, Croatia and Serbia have seen their sheep numbers grow over the past number of years, the Eurostat figures show.