Co. Cork accounts for almost 30% of the national dairy-cow population of over 1.5 million, and has the highest level of specialist dairy farms, 2,237 of which are in the east of the county, according to Teagasc.
Since 2010, the total number of farms in Co. Cork has fallen by 3.64% to 13,704, while the average farm size has increased slightly reaching 38.7ha, according to the 2020 Census of Agriculture.
Teagasc recently published regional reviews for 2021, including an overview of the agricultural and farming sectors in Cork east, Cork west, and Kerry/Limerick.
The average age of farmers in Co. Cork is 55 years and 14% of farm holders are female.
There are 2,232 dairy herds in Cork east with an average size of 95 cows. In the west of the county there are 1,862 dairy farms and 147,752 dairy cows, with an average of 80 animals/farm.
Beef is a significant farm enterprise in the Cork-west region with 39,161 suckler cows and 3,787 farms. There is also a good proportion of finishers in the Macroom and Bandon areas.
In the Cork-east region, beef is the most significant enterprise, comprising 2,880 specialist producers and 1,718 suckler herds with a total of 33,081 animals.
Tillage, pigs and sheep
Co. Cork holds a tillage area of 35,423ha across 1,439 farms, out of which 800 are specialised. Tillage is prevalent in the eastern part of the Cork-east region and is an important enterprise in the eastern part of Cork west.
There are 16 commercial pig farms in the Cork-east region with an average herd size of 990 sows. There are also six commercial finisher farms.
In the Cork-west region there are 13 sow herds with an average herd size of 549 animals. Additionally, there are two breeding herds at an average size of 180 sows, and seven finisher herds.
Sheep farming is very important in the western and northwestern part of the Cork-west region, and on the Beara and Sheep’s Head peninsulas, according to Teagasc.
There are 271 flocks including 114,305 sheep and 29,641 ewes in the east of the county. In the west of the county, in comparison, there are 1,420 sheep flocks comprising 124,531 sheep, including 92,190 ewes.
Kerry and Limerick
The number of farms in the region has fallen by 3.87% from 14,394 to 13,837 since the Census of Agriculture in 2010. However, the average farm size in the two counties combined increased by 4.52% to 35.8ha.
Farmers in the region are 57-years-old on average and 13.5% of farm holders are female.
There are almost 2,700 dairy farms and 227,000 cows in the region, with the average farm having 84 animals.
Beef is a significant farm enterprise in the region with 580,000 beef and suckler animals across 7,400 farms.
Kerry and Limerick combined have 280,000 breeding ewes on 1,740 farms. There are 2,500 sheep flocks in Co. Kerry with 480,000 sheep in total, including 263,000 ewes.
Tillage farming has the least land area of all enterprises with less than 70 farms. These are predominately located in the north Kerry and mid-Limerick areas.
There are 13 sow herds with an average herd size of 640 animals, and an additional three finisher herds in the Kerry and Limerick region.
Forestry accounts for approximately 12.3% (+58,583ha) and 10.5% (+28,295ha) of the land area in Kerry and Limerick respectively. The majority of forestry in the region is privately owned.