Sheep numbers well down

The final results from the June 2007 agricultural survey show that the total number of sheep has fallen to 5,521,600, the lowest since 1986. The decrease on June 2006 was due to reductions of 217,700 (-8.3 percent) in ewes two years and over, 32,500 (-6.7 percent) in ewes under two years, 6,000 (-6.3 percent) in rams and 195,300 (-7 percent) in other sheep.  Total cattle numbers in June 2007 decreased by 211,800 (-3.1 percent) to 6,704,100. This was partly due to a decrease of 71,800 (-7.8 percent) in males 1-2 years. There was also a decrease in dairy heifers of 10,900 (-4.8 percent). A comparison with the June 2006 results indicates that the area under cereals decreased by 0.3 percent, mainly due to a decrease in the area under wheat of 3,300 ha (-3.7 percent). However, some of the decrease was offset by an increase in the area under other cereals of 900 ha (17.9 percent) and in oats of 900 ha (4.4 percent). The area under pasture increased by 11.7 percent to 2,158,500 ha, whereas the area under silage decreased by 14.2 percent to 1,039,900 ha. Pig numbers decreased by 55,400 (-3.4 percent) to 1,587,800. A regional analysis of the results indicate that the largest number of sheep (1,481,600) was in the West region, the largest number of cattle (1,320,900) was in the South-West region and the largest number of pigs (468,300) was in the Border region.