Pig & Poultry Production

Pig production ranks third in importance behind beef and dairy in terms of economic value at the farm gate in Ireland. Based on the figures returned from the 1,844 active herds in October 2016 the national pig herd consisted of 1,607,406 pigs, made up of 154,888 breeding pigs, 1,451,961 fattening pigs and 557 nonproduction pigs (Dept of Agriculture, 2016)

However, the reality is that pig farming has moved from being a common feature of thousands of farmyards to a highly specialised intensive operation.

In 2016 97% of all pigs were kept in 262 herds of 1,000 and over. There were only 40 herds which kept between 500 and 1000 pigs- accounting for approx. 1.7% of the pig population (28,129 pigs, 40 herds).

The pig population in 4 counties exceeded 100,000. Cavan overtook Cork in 2016 as the most pigpopulous county, recording 296,349 pigs, representing approx. 18.5% of the total population. Cork, with the second highest pig numbers, recorded 17.5% of the total. Tipperary, in 3rd place, recorded 11.1% , followed by Waterford with 6.3% of the total (Dept of Agriculture, 2016). 

Feed represents 70% of the costs of pig production. Virtually all the protein feed ingredients, and a significant proportion of the cereals used in pig feeds, must be imported.

It is estimated that 1,300 labour units are employed on Irish pig farms, with a further 7,000 employed in the associated service sectors.  

In 2015, Ireland exported 230,000 tonnes of pigmeat worth approximately €570 million. The UK was the most important market, accounting for 40% of all exports. Continental EU markets accounted for 25% of product and the rest to international markeys. 

Cork, Tipperary, Cavan and Monaghan are the most significant counties in terms of commercial pig farm numbers.

An interesting trend in recent years has been the increased number of urban dwellers that are keeping a pig in their back garden. However, for disease control purposes, only persons registered with the Department of Agriculture and issued with a valid pig herd number are allowed to own or trade in pigs. Details are available from www.agriculture.gov.ie


Poultry production

Poultry production is also an important industry in Ireland, particularly in the North East. Chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys are fattened for meat production, while hens and ducks are kept for egg production.


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