Ireland’s sheep flock increased, once again, by 3.6% in 2021 when compared with 2020, according to the latest sheep census figures from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

Figures from the department reveal that 4.02 million sheep were kept in the country at the end of December 2021, which represents an increase of 120,000 head when compared with the 2020 figure.

Of the 4.02 million sheep recorded to be in Ireland as of December 31, 2021, 2.7 million of those were breeding sheep over 12 months-of-age. This is an increase of approximately 55,000 head on the previous year’s ewe population.

The average number of sheep/flock was 111, which is up by two on the 2020 figure.

Sheep numbers in 2021 by county

If we take a look at the county-by-county breakdown of the total number of sheep, we can see that Co. Donegal leads the way with 559,716 sheep.

The two counties with the next largest populations of sheep are Mayo and Galway, with 456,246 and 439,990 respectively.

Finishing the top-five counties with the largest populations of sheep are Kerry and Wicklow, with 339,823 and 241,483 respectively.

The counties with the lowest numbers of sheep are Limerick and Dublin, with 23,273 and 25,994 respectively.

See the full breakdown in the map below: