The number of heads in Europe has fallen by 8.9% in the last 20 years

Over a two-decade period, there has been a decline in the number of livestock across the European Union. Between 2001 and 2020, the total number of pigs, cattle, sheep and goats in the EU fell by an average of 8.9%. The largest decrease in terms of livestock estimates was recorded in the number of sheep, while the decrease in pigs was relatively slight. Looking at deeper details in the development between 2019 and 2020, the pig population in the EU increased by 2.2%, while a decrease of 0.9% in the number of cattle was observed.

The number of heads in Europe has fallen by 8.9% in the last 20 years – © Pixabay

The EU has a significant number of livestock: in 2020, there were 146 million pigs, 76 million cattle, and about 75 million sheep and goats on European Union farms.

Also, most EU cattle are found in only a few member states.

Between one-fifth and one-quarter of cattle are in France, and about 22.4% of pigs and sheep (24.8%) are located in Spain.

Some EU countries are relatively specialized in raising certain livestock. For example, Ireland and Spain stand out when it comes to cattle breeding, while Denmark and France stand out in pig breeding.

Livestock: Distribution in the EU

The Livestock Distribution Index indicates that the Netherlands (3.8), Malta (2.9) and Belgium (2.8) had the highest number of livestock units per hectare of agricultural land.

On the other hand, livestock breeding in the Baltic countries and Bulgaria is lower, at less than 0.30 livestock units per hectare.

European UnionLivestock most represented in the Netherlands – © Pixabay

Meat production and export to the EU

In 2020, the EU produced 23 million tons of pork. That was more than the estimated level of poultry meat, 13.6 million tons, which is twice as much as the produced beef, 6.8 million tons.

In the period between 2004-2020, a sharp increase in poultry meat production was observed, with EU production increasing by as much as 45.6%. The level of pork production increased by 9.2%, although most of that growth took place during 2013.

In 2020, slightly more than one fifth (5.1 million tons) of pork originating from the EU came from Germany. While Spain had a similar share, about 21.7%.

The highest production of poultry meat was in Poland (19.8% of total EU production). While Spain (12.6%), France (12.3%), Germany (11.9%) and Italy (10.2%) also took good positions.

More than a fifth of all European beef came from France (1.4 million tonnes). Germany (16%), Italy (10.7%), Spain (9.9%) and Ireland (9.3%) followed this country.

milk-production-in-the-EUIn 2020, the production of fresh milk on EU farms amounted to 160.1 million tons – © Pixabay

Milk and cereal production

In 2020, the production of fresh milk on EU farms amounted to 160.1 million tons. Which represents an increase of 2.0 million tons compared to the previous year.

Most of the fresh milk produced goes to dairies, and only about 10.6 million tons are used on the farms themselves. So, by the producers themselves, it is either sold directly to the customers, or it is immediately further processed.

When it comes to cereals, most of the cereals produced in the EU are used for animal nutrition, and about 30% are used as food for humans. A small portion is also used for vegetable oils.

Source: Feed Navigator

Source: Agromedia by

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