Final results of the June Agricultural Census 2019

Date published: 19 December 2019

The final results of the June 2019 Agricultural Census have been released by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

DARD statistics

The statistics are compiled from a survey of farm businesses augmented by administrative data. The statistics provide robust estimates of crop areas, numbers of livestock and of farmers and workers on active farm businesses on the survey date of 1 June 2019.

The main changes between June 2018 and June 2019 are:

Total area farmed: The total area farmed (excluding common land) is approximately one million hectares (1,023,000 hectares)


Total cattle numbers have fallen by 1% from June 2018 to 1.61 million. The number of beef cows decreased by 3% to 247,000 with dairy cow numbers increasing by 1% to 313,500.


There was a 2% decrease in the number of breeding ewes compared with 2018 with numbers falling to 938,500. Overall, the total number of sheep recorded was approximately 2 million which is a 1% decrease from June 2018.


In comparison to 2018, the total female breeding herd decreased by 5% to 47,400. Overall, there has been an increase in Northern Ireland total pig numbers recorded in June 2019 of 6% to 674,300. The increase in pig numbers was a result of a higher number of fattening pigs.


Laying birds recorded for June 2019 increased by 15% to 5.0 million birds while the number of growing pullets increased by 32% to 1.5 million birds. The number of birds for breeding increased by 2% from 2018. Broiler poultry numbers decreased by 13% to 15.4 million birds in June 2019. Overall, there was a 5% decrease in total poultry numbers on farms at June 2019 to 24.8 million birds. 


The total area of cereals grown in 2019 remained similar to 2018 at 29,800 hectares with oat and spring barley crops both decreasing while wheat and winter barley crops increased over the same period. The area of winter barley grown in June 2019 showed the largest increase with an increase of 33% from 2018 while the area grown of wheat increased by 18%. This was due to good planting conditions for the crops. Oat crops decreased by 7% from 2018 to 2019. From June 2018 to June 2019 the area of spring barley grown fell by 20% to 11,900 hectares but it still remains the most popular crop grown in Northern Ireland.

Other crops

The area of other field crops remained similar to last year. The area of arable crop silage decreased by 8% to 3,900 hectares but this was partially offset by an increase in the area of potatoes by 5% to 3,800 hectares. Forage maize remained broadly similar in 2019 at 1,600 hectares.

Farmers and workers

There were 49,400 workers in the agricultural labour force in June 2019. There was no change in the number of full-time farmers and partners but a 1% increase in the number of part-time farmers and business partners. There were a total of 17,000 full-time farmers and partners in June 2019 and 13,900 part-time farmers and partners in the same period. The number of other farm workers decreased by 1% from 2018 levels to 11,900 in 2019. Casual worker numbers have decreased by 6% from 2018 to 2019 to 4,000 workers.


The number of farms recorded at 1 June 2019 has remained similar to the number in June 2018 at approximately 24,800 farms.

Notes to editors: 

1. The survey results were prepared by Statistics and Analytical Services Branch, Policy, Economics and Statistics Division of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Dundonald House, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast, BT4 3SB.

2. In an effort to reduce the compliance burden on farmers, the survey form sent to farmers omitted most of the cattle and all of the poultry and pig questions. Survey information was then augmented with data from APHIS for missing cattle variables, the Update of the Northern Ireland Bird Register for poultry and the Annual Inventory of Pigs.

3. Full details of the coverage of the census and of terms used were given in the booklet “The Agricultural Census in Northern Ireland: Results for June 2018” (DAERA, 2019) and will be repeated in the 2019 issue of this annual publication, available in January 2020. These booklets may be accessed on the Department’s internet site, free of charge.

4. These statistics are released according to the Statement of Compliance with the Pre-release access to Official Statistics Order (NI) 2009.

5. These results were compiled from a sample of approximately 14,300 statistical returns, augmented with data from the APHIS cattle tracing system, the Update of the NI Bird Register returns and the Annual Inventory of Pigs.

6. View all DAERA statistical releases

7. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook.

8. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or via email. Out of office hours, please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.

9. Crown Copyright 2019                

A National Statistics publication

National Statistics status means that our statistics meet the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality and public value, and it is our responsibility to maintain compliance with these standards.

The continued designation of these statistics as National Statistics was confirmed in March 2019 following a compliance check by the Office for Statistics Regulation.

The statistics last underwent a full assessment against the Code of Practice in June 2013.

Since the latest review by the Office for Statistics Regulation, we have continued to comply with the Code of Practice for Statistics, and have made the following improvements:

  • Improved statistical output by creating an interactive dashboard to accompany the report and tables.
  • Improved statistical output by creating infographics to accompany the report and tables.
  • Improved access to the Agricultural Statistics by adding clearer signposting on the DAERA website.

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