Results from the June Agricultural Census 2022

Date published: 28 February 2023

The results from the June 2022 Agricultural Census have been released today by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

DARD statistics

The statistics provide estimates of crop areas and numbers of livestock on active farm businesses on the survey date of 1 June 2022.

The statistics are compiled from a survey of farm businesses augmented by administrative data (Animal Public Health Information System, APHIS, cattle tracing system). In response to COVID-19, the data collection for the Farm Census moved entirely online since 2020. In 2022 the survey remained online with minor changes due to feedback. A large response was achieved from the online-only collection and focussed telephone follow-up. This has enabled detailed farm census statistics to be produced.

The main changes between June 2021 and June 2022 are:

Total area farmed: The total area farmed (excluding common land) was approximately one million hectares (1,043,270 hectares), an increase of less than 1% compared to 2021.

Cattle: Total cattle numbers have increased by less than 1% to 1,686,999.  The number of both beef and dairy cows remained relatively consistent (246,240 beef and 316,775 dairy cows).

Sheep: There was an increase of just 3% in breeding ewes compared to 2021, with numbers increasing to 997,227. Overall, the total number of sheep recorded was 2.1 million, which was a just over 3% rise from June 2021.

Pigs: Total pig numbers recorded in June 2022 increased by just over 3% to 738,540 compared to June 2021.

Poultry: Total poultry numbers on farms at June 2022 decreased by 16% from 2021 levels with 20.6 million birds recorded. A combination of economic and animal health factors driving the change in the sector. Total number of laying birds saw a small increase of 6% whilst broiler numbers decreased by 25% and other poultry by 73% compared to June 2021.

Crops: The total area of crops grown in Northern Ireland in 2022 was approximately 48,139 hectares, an increase of 4% from 2021. The total area of cereals (32,681 hectares) grown in 2022 increased by 7%  from 2021. Wheat crops increased by 12% to 8,625 hectares, Winter and Spring Barley increased by 8% and 4% respectively, while Oats increased by 5% from 2021, at 1,973 hectares.

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. Key methodological changes introduced in 2020 both in how the Agricultural Census data was collected and processed continued in 2022. These included

  • Letters inviting farms to take part were issued to all farms and data collected online only. 
  • Some questions were simplified or removed to streamline the online collection experience and reduce the burden on farms.
  • Questions on pigs and poultry were gathered from the NI Annual Inventory of Pigs and Update of NI Bird Register.
  • Data for the cattle section was extracted from the APHIS cattle tracing database as in previous years.  
  • Telephone support was provided for farmers who could not complete online with a focussed telephone follow-up of non-responding farms completed. 
  • New estimation and imputation methods introduced in 2020 were used to create statistics for those who did not provide a return.

3. Results are based on 17,223 completed questionnaires augmented with data from the APHIS cattle tracing system, Northern Ireland Bird Register and Northern Ireland Annual Inventory of Pigs.

4. Full details of the coverage of the census and of terms used are provided in The Agricultural Census in Northern Ireland Methodology and Quality Report.

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

6. View all DAERA statistical releases.

7. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office.

8. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook.

9. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

Crown Copyright 2023                

A National Statistics publication

The UK Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

  • This designation means that the statistics:
  • meet identified user needs;
  • are well explained and readily accessible;
  • are produced according to sound methods; and
  • are managed impartially and objectively in the public interest.

Once statistics have been designated as National Statistics it is a statutory requirement that the Code of Practice shall be observed regarding them.

In March 2019, the Northern Ireland June Agricultural Census statistics were assessed by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) to ensure compliance with National Statistics standards and are considered by OSR to meet the standards required for designation as National Statistics. Download a copy of the compliance check letter.

Further information on National Statistics can be accessed and from the UK Statistics Authority 

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