The national cattle herd fell by over 25,000 head in 2023 when compared with the previous year, according to new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The 25,900 head drop in the 12 months to December 2023 represents a 0.4% decrease in cattle numbers nationally.

As of the end of last year, the national herd stands at 6,526,000.

Cattle aged two years and over increased by 13% - a 43,700 head rise.

Dairy cows increased marginally from 1,510,300 to 1,510,900.

Meanwhile, cows classified as ‘other’ decreased by 5% - a 43,200 head drop.


Sheep numbers are estimated to have decreased by 23,000 in 2023, when compared with 2022.

This equates to a fall of 0.6% in sheep numbers across the country, bringing the number of sheep at the end of 2023 to 3,995,000 nationally.

Ewes decreased by 2.5% - a 66,700 drop. Rams increased by 4.4% - a 3,800 rise.

Sheep classified as other rose 3.2% to 1,305,600.


Pigs saw the largest decrease of any livestock last year.

The number of pigs fell by 10.4% in 2023 compared with the previous year.

This represents a drop of 162,800 to 1,407,600 as of December 2023.

Senior statistician in the agriculture section of the CSO Donal Kelly said this represents the lowest pig numbers since 1991.