More sheep than people in Ireland - Census 2016
A quick comparison of some headline figures between the census and the crops and livestock survey from 2016 has revealed some startling facts.

The latest figures show that there are in fact more sheep in Ireland than there are humans. Our population stands at just under 4.8m, while there are almost 5.2m sheep in the country.

Remarkably, there are more cows in the country than the number of people who speak Irish. With 1.4m dairy cows and 1.1m suckler cows, they have a much higher population than the 1.8m people who speak our native language.

Internet vs crops

Access to high-speed broadband has been an issue for rural dwellers for a number of years now. The figures show that there are in fact more dwellings without internet than the number of hectares under crops.

According to the 2016 census, there are just under 313,000 houses with no internet connection. Whereas in the Crops and Livestock Survey in 2016, the area under crops was 277,600ha.

Four times more same-sex couples than boars

This was the first census to record same-sex civil partnerships. Interestingly, there were four times more same-sex couples than there were boars in Ireland. The 2016 census recorded a total of 6,034 same-sex couples, while the 2016 pig survey recorded 1,400 boars in Ireland.

The farmer's daily wrap: Brexit, BEEP and €500 vet visit charge
Here is your news round-up of the five top farming stories and weather outlook for 22 February 2019.

Weather forecast

Friday is forecast to start cloudy and breezy with outbreaks of rain and drizzle. Met Éireann has said that the rain and drizzle will become confined to western and northern areas in the afternoon with good spells of sunshine developing in the south and east.

Top temperatures will range between 12-15° in fresh to strong and gusty south to southeast winds but becoming increasing windy by evening time in the southwest.

In the news

  • The Irish Farmers Journal has obtained documents which show the UK will open the floodgates to Brazilian beef in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
  • Rushes from Irish farms have been converted to biochar worth €1,750/t on world markets.
  • A veterinary practice in Donegal has an out of hours call out fee of €500 which it says is due to a shortage of vets.
  • Farmers have registered 270,000 suckler cows with the Department of Agriculture under the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP) scheme.
  • Farm organisations have called for farm payments to be maintained at their current levels and schemes such as GLAS to be extended if the rollout of the next CAP is delayed.
  • Coming up this Friday

  • The weather for the weekend ahead.
  • The Big Dealer.
    'We're in uncharted waters' - farmers react to Brazilian beef threat
    Odile Evans reports from the Irish Farmers Journal mart demo in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, on Thursday night.

    Farmers at the Irish Farmers Journal mart demo in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, on Thursday night reacted in dismay to the news that the UK is set to open its doors to Brazilian beef.

    Tom Bryan from outside Tipperary town. \ Patrick Browne

    Tom Bryan keeps store cattle and pedigree Charolais outside Tipperary town:

    “[Brexit is] serious, even for the exports to the north. At €2.20/kg or €2.30/kg, you’re not going to make money because the cost of manure and meal and electricity has gone so high.

    “Sure meal is €230/t. It’s very hard for young farmers to stay at home - they can get a good job and a good education. I have two nephews and I don’t think they’ll take it on.”

    Martin Phelan from Camross, Co Laois. \ Patrick Browne

    Suckler and sheep farmer Martin Phelan farms in Camross, Co Laois:

    “[Suckling] all depends on what the British do over the next month. It’s hard enough to make money at the current price so we couldn’t compete with Brazilian beef.

    "I have survived the last 30 years in farming at current prices, but I don’t see how anyone could stay farming at the price that’s being paid at the moment.

    “One of the promises that the Brexiteers made during the campaign to leave the EU was that food prices would be cheaper. If the British bring in a cheap food policy for Britain, our market is gone.”

    Tony Doorley from Lacka, Carrig, Birr, Co Offaly. \ Patrick Browne

    Tony Doorley is a retired farmer in Lacka, Carrig, Birr, Co Offaly. He works with Dovea Genetics but helps his son on the 80-cow dairy farm:

    “We sell most of the bull calves at three weeks. We have the same customer for the last four or five years from the yard - they’d be beef men. Naturally prices are back, we are facing into the unknown at the moment.

    “People are living in hope. It may not be as bad as we are expecting it to be, but if it is, it would be a disaster for rural Ireland.

    "It has traditionally been a beef country. Beef is very important to the whole industry, not alone to the farmers, but to the factories and the workers and the hauliers and our own company in the AI station.

    “The English market is a natural hub for our beef and we’re just hoping against hope that there will be a deal. If they’re to bring their beef from Brazil, what is that going to do for the carbon footprint?”

    Ray Dempsey from Roscrea. \ Patrick Browne

    Ray Dempsey is a suckler-to-beef farmer and runs a mid-season ewe flock near Roscrea, Co Tipperary:

    “It would be very difficult to compete [with Brazil]. I think we are in very uncharted waters where we are at the moment. Nobody knows what Brexit is bringing, there’s a lot of scaremongering going on as well.

    “The UK is trying to put pressure on Irish beef farmers to see can they get any support there. No matter what way it goes, hard border or soft border, it’s still not going to be much good for the Irish farmer. We still need that UK market.

    "I suppose I’m around long enough to see the wheel going round. At the moment, every young farmer has to look at milk for a living if you want to be a full-time farmer.

    “It’s in everybody’s interest that we work together but the attitudes have to change on all sides. If we are to use the beef coming out of the dairy herd, there needs to be a bit more quality and a bit more genetics put into it. We can work together if the dairy farmer produces a quality calf.”

    Read more

    UK plans to open doors to Brazilian beef

    Editorial: UK threat to wipe out Irish beef in no-deal Brexit

    'Substantial amounts of money' for beef farmers in no-deal Brexit – Tánaiste

    In pictures: springtime surprises of quintuplet lambs and triplet calves
    A suckler farmer in Wexford has welcomed triplet calves to his farm while a farmer in Sligo has had quintuplet lambs. Odile Evans and David Wilson report.

    Damian Henry welcomed five new lambs to his farm in Coolaney, Sligo on 8 February. His Cheviot crossbred ewe gave birth to quintuplets which he said are all doing well. The ewe was bred to a Suffolk ram.

    The lambs are getting a bottle twice or three times a day. Damian estimates that the lightest lamb was 3.5kg while the heaviest was 5kg.

    Quintuplets born in Sligo. \ Damian Henry

    “Every year this ewe has had twins up to now, she has more than paid for herself,” Damian told the Irish Farmers Journal. “It only took her 45 minutes to lamb from the first one to the fifth.”


    Meanwhile triplet calves were born on Mick Doyle’s farm outside Enniscorthy, Co Wexford. Mick’s triplets (two heifers, one bull) were born on Saturday 16 February to a Simmental cross cow and a Charolais bull.

    Micheál Doyle,Siobhán Sinnott, Mike Doyle and Rory Higgan with the triplet calves born on Mike Doyle's farm in Coolharbour, Co. Wexford. \ Philip Doyle

    “The calves are doing very well with the heaviest being a bull born at around 40kg. I had been expecting twins so I had been feeding the cow that bit extra. There was no trouble with calving, the cow actually calved the first two by herself!”

    If that wasn’t enough, Mick is also in the middle of lambing with quadruplet lambs arriving in the last week to a Belclare cross ewe.

    Read more

    Surprise as triplet calves born in Cork

    Shock and excitement in Mayo as ewe gives birth to five lambs