Teagasc published reviews for each of its 12 advisory regions last week, giving an overview of the farming activity in each area based on the results of the Census of Agriculture 2020 and Teagasc’s own data.

In this article we look at the three Teagasc advisory regions that make up much of the southern half of the country: Tipperary; Waterford/Kilkenny; and Wicklow/Carlow/Wexford.

Teagasc review – Tipperary

The Census of Agriculture 2020 indicates that, since the previous census of 2010, the number of farms in the region has fallen from over 7,700 to just over 7,400, a decrease of more than 300.

The average age of a farm holder was 56, while the average area per farm was 42ha. 32% of farms were less than 20ha in size, and 13% of farm holders were female.

The most important enterprises in the county were dairy and beef, with a significant increase in milk production since the abolition of quotas. Milk output increased by 70% since 2010.

However, the number of suckler cows dropped from over 74,000 in 2010 to around 53,000 in 2020.

In 2020 there were 3,978 specialist beef producers and 276 specialist sheep producers, with mixed grazing on 347 farms.

55% of farms in the county had a beef production element, while there were a total of 868 farmers in the county with some number of sheep. There was a total of 160,109 sheep in the county in 2020.

Dairy cow numbers increased from over 113,300 in 2010 to 180,300 in 2020. The average dairy herd size is 100 cows on 1,832 farms.

There were 22 pig producers in Tipperary in 2020 with an average herd size of 655 sows.

There were also 148 organic farmers in the region, farming around 6,700ha.

Teagasc review – Waterford/Kilkenny

Moving on to the combined Waterford and Kilkenny region, in which the total number of farms fell from 6,500 to under 6,200.

The average age of a farm holder was 56, with an average holding of 46ha. 30% of holdings were less than 20ha and, again, 13% of farm holders were female.

The most prevalent enterprise in the area were: beef farming with 2,600 specialist beef producers; and dairy with 1,500 producers.

There were 240 specialist sheep producers in the region in 2020.

The specialist dairy farms in the region accounted for about 10% of the national total. Dairy cow numbers have increased by 50% across the two counties since the last census in 2010.

There were over 193,000 dairy cows in the region in 2020, with an average herd size of 110 cows.

Suckler cow numbers in the region decreased from over 60,000 in 2010 to under 48,000 in 2020. Over 70% of farmers in the two counties are involved in beef. Between them they had a total of 47,600 suckler cows.

Sheep numbers in the area have remained fairly static, with over 93,000 sheep across 831 farms.

There were 81 commercial pig producers in Waterford/Kilkenny in 2020, with an average herd size of 660 sows. These figures were also relatively stable compared to preceding years.

There were 76 organic farms in Waterford/Kilkenny, representing 4% of the all farms in the region.


Finally, for the Wicklow/Carlow/Wexford region, the number of farms in this area fell very slightly between 2010 and 2020, from just over 8,600 to 8,500.

However, there has been a notable decrease in suckler cow numbers, decreasing by 18% since 2017. Meanwhile, dairy cow numbers increased by 19% in the same period.

Both the decrease in suckler cows and increase in dairy cows for this region were greater than the national average changes for these cows categories.

The average age of a farm holder was again 56, with an average holding of 41.5ha. The proportion of these farm holders who were female was again in line with the national average, about 13%.

In 2020, specialist cattle farms made up the largest number of farms, at 2,530, around 30% of the total. There were around 3,400 suckler farmers in the region in 2020, with approximately 62,000 suckler cows.

There were 1,271 dairy farms in the region in 2020, and over 131,213 cows. The average dairy herd size was 103 cows.

The 2020 Census of Agriculture shows that there were 316,000 breeding ewes in the region that year, on just over 3,000 farms, which made up 36% of all farms in these three counties.

About 45% of these sheep farms were specialist enterprises.

In 2020 there were 20 pig farms in the region with an average herd size of 510 sows.

That year there was also 104 organic farms in the region.