Picture of Ireland: How many cattle and sheep do we have?

In 2010 the Republic had 139,860 farms, which represents a gradual decrease over the past two decades

In 2010 the Republic had 139,860 farms, which represents a gradual decrease over the past two decades. It has fallen by more than 18 per cent since 1991.

Co Cork has most farms, at 14,222. Counties Cork, Galway, Mayo, Donegal and Kerry account for more than 40 per cent of the national total. Co Dublin has the fewest farms, with 798 in 2010.

While there has been a decline in the number of farms, their size has increased. The average farm is now just under 33 hectares, more than 50 per cent larger than the average in 1991.

On average, farms in the Border, Midlands and West regions are much smaller (about 27 hectares) than those in the south and east (about 38 hectares). Counties Dublin, Waterford, Kildare and Kilkenny have the largest farms, averaging more than 45 hectares.


Farming in Ireland is still dominated by specialist beef production, which accounts for 55 per cent of farms. The other main types are specialist dairy farms (11 per cent), mixed grazing and livestock (11 per cent) and specialist sheep farms (9.7 per cent).

There is a distinct pattern to the size and location of farming sectors. The strength of beef and dairy farming means more than 6.6 million cattle were spread across 111,000 farms in 2010. Just under a million cattle (15 per cent) are in Co Cork. The map (right) details the distribution of cattle.

In comparison, there were 4.7 million sheep in Ireland in 2010, distributed among 32,100 farms, with an average flock of 148.

The distribution of sheep farming is more concentrated: most are in the west, in counties such as Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Donegal and Kerry.

Ordnance Survey Ireland licence EN 0063512. Ordnance Survey Ireland/Government of Ireland data source: CSO 2010.

Map produced by All-Island Research Observatory. Not to be reproduced without permission from Airo. Northern Ireland data not available