Agricultural production - animals
- Data extracted in October 2016. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned update of the article : November 2017.
This article is part of a set of statistical articles based on the Eurostat online publication "Agriculture, forestry and fishery statistics". It presents information on livestock and meat production in the European Union (EU).
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
- 6 External links
- 7 Notes
Main statistical findings
In 2015, Spain, Germany, France, United Kingdom and Italy held the largest populations of livestock in the EU-28. Highest numbers of pigs were recorded in Spain and Germany (28.4 and 27.7 million head respectively), bovines in France (19.4 million head), and sheep in the United Kingdom (23.1 million head) as shown in Table 1.
While ‘veal’ reflects slaughtering of bovine animals younger than one year (calves and young cattle), ‘beef’ reflects slaughtering of older bovine animals. Beef is mainly produced from cattle breeds grown specifically for their meat but it can also come from dairy cattle. Male calves from dairy mothers are of no use for producing milk, their growth potential for producing beef meat is insufficient, and most of them are used for veal production. Notably, the end of milk quotas on 31 March 2015 led to increased cow slaughter ( 4 %) reflecting the abandonment of dairy production by some of the smallest farms, while strong expansion of the dairy herd in both 2014 and 2015 was observed for the largest ones. The cow herd also grew as a result of favourable feed prices and demand for high quality beef meat.
Close to two thirds of the bovine meat produced in the EU-28 derived from either bulls (32 %) or cows (30 %) in 2015 (see Table 3). In many EU Member States that proportion was even higher. In Ireland and the United Kingdom a majority of the beef (69%) produced in 2015 came from heifers (over one-year old females that did not calve) and bullocks (over one-year old castrated males).
France (19.1 %), Germany (14.8 %) and the United Kingdom (11.6 %) accounted for almost half (46 %) of the total EU-28 beef production in 2015 and, in each of those countries, production was higher in 2015 than it was a year earlier (see Table 2). The rate of growth of beef production was highest in Romania (52 %), while both in Hungary and in Lithuania beef production grew at a rate of 14 % between 2014 and 2015, distinctly above the EU-28 growth rate of 4 %.
From 2010 to 2013 the EU cattle price index rose by 16.0%. In 2015, the decline which started in 2014 continued at a slower rate (-0.9%). However, over the period 2010-2015, the index increased by 9.1% (see Figure 3).
Pig meat production for the EU-28, driven by the export surge of pig meat to China, low feed prices and a higher number of breeding sows, increased 3.7 % from 2014 to 2015, reaching 22.9 million tonnes (Figure 1 and Table 2). Almost all EU Member States, except Denmark, Austria and Belgium, followed an increase in the production or a slowdown in the decline of pig production (e.g. Germany) in 2015.
Germany produced around one quarter (24.2 % or 5.6 million tonnes) of the EU-28’s pig meat in 2015, while Spain produced one sixth (17.0 % or 3.9 million tonnes) of the EU-28 total equal to 23 million tonnes (Figure 2).
In 2015, despite a private storage aid scheme for pig meat, the prices followed a constant decline. In 2015, the pig meat price index decreased by 11.6% compared to 2014. Over the period 2010-2015, the index decreased by 5.1%. The median price of pigs  was about 110 EUR/100 kg.
The expansion of sheep herds in the United Kingdom and Spain combined with the Italian market´s recovery from Bluetongue disease led to an increase in sheep meat production for the EU-28 of about 2.5 % from 2014 to 2015, when it reached 725 thousand tonnes. Between 2014 and 2015 goat meat production decreased by 2 % (see Figure 1 and Table 2).
The United Kingdom (39.0 %) and Spain (16.3 %) contributed with 55.4 % of total EU-28 sheep and goat meat production in 2015.
In 2015, the price index of sheep and goat remained at the level of the previous years, decreasing by 1.8% compared to 2014 and, over the period 2010-2015, the index decreased by 1.1%.
Similar to the pig sector, low feed prices led to a surge in poultry meat production 3.9 % between 2014 and 2015, continuing the upward trends in the production of this type of meat in recent years (Figure 1).
Each of Poland, France, United Kingdom, Germany and Spain, contributed between 10 to 15 % to EU-28 production of poultry meat in 2015.
In 2015, the price index for chickens decreased by 3.4 % compared to 2014 and by 8.5 % compared to 2013. This price decrease is considered to be linked to decreased feed costs and to prices having adjusted downwards to increased production. In 2015, the median price of chickens  was 94.11 EUR/100 kg.
Data sources and availability
Livestock and meat statistics
Livestock and meat statistics are collected by EU Member States under Regulation (EC) No 1165/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008, which covers bovine, pig, sheep and goat livestock; slaughtering statistics on bovine animals, pigs, sheep, goats and poultry; and production forecasts for beef, veal, pig meat, sheep meat and goat meat.
Livestock surveys cover sufficient agricultural holdings to account for at least 95 % of the national livestock population, as determined by the last survey on the structure of agricultural holdings.
Bovine and pig livestock statistics are produced twice a year, with reference to a given day in May/June and a given day in November/ December. Those EU Member States whose bovine animal populations are below 1.5 million head or whose pig populations are below 3.0 million head may produce these statistics only once a year, with reference to a given day in November/December. The November/ December results are available for all EU Member States and are used in this article.
Sheep livestock statistics are only produced once a year, with reference to a given day in November/December, by those EU Member States whose sheep populations are 500 000 head or above; the same criteria and thresholds apply for statistics on goat populations.
Statistics on the slaughtering of animals in slaughterhouses are produced monthly by each EU Member State, the reference period being the calendar month. Statistics on slaughtering carried out other than in slaughterhouses is produced annually, the reference period being the calendar year.
Agricultural price statistics
EU agricultural price statistics (APS) are based on voluntary agreements between EUROSTAT and the Member States.
The National Statistical Institutes or Ministries of Agriculture are responsible for collecting absolute prices and calculating corresponding average prices for their country, as well as for calculating price indices and periodically updating the weights. Price indices are reported quarterly and annually. Absolute prices are reported annually. The agricultural prices expressed in national currency are converted into EURO by EUROSTAT using the fixed exchange rates or financial market exchange rates, in order to allow comparisons between the Member States. Eurostat is responsible for calculating indices for the EU.
Statistics on livestock and meat production (based on the slaughter of animals fit for human consumption) give some indication of supply-side developments and adjustments, which are important to monitor the Common agricultural policy (CAP).
Back in 1959, the initial objective of the EU agriculture policy was to feed the EU population. Today’s CAP has evolved substantially since these early efforts and is striving to tackle new challenges in search of a fairer and greener more competitive agriculture. The former policy need for production statistics for market monitoring by the European commission has evolved, with the Single Common Organisation of the Market, towards market transparency for all actors and EU citizens, contributing to feedback on the market signals, for meat as for the other agricultural products.
The main aims of the CAP are to improve agricultural productivity, so that consumers can benefit from a stable supply of affordable food, while making sure that EU farmers can make a reasonable living.
Supply of affordable animal food products refers especially to meat and dairy products (but also eggs and honey). In order to limit uncertainty, EU institutions in charge of market support interpret the market signals using livestock numbers for their forecasts. The number of breeders on the one hand (for dairy or meat production), and animal stocks being grown and fattened on the other, contribute to preparing measures that will ensure a more stable—or at least more secure—market, benefitting both consumers and farmers.
The European Commission has been active in harmonising animal health measures and systems of disease surveillance, diagnosis and control; it has also developed a legal framework for trade in live animals and animal products. Ensuring the high quality of food is one of the various challenges to be met in order to secure the food supply of EU citizens.
- Agricultural census 2010 — includes links to articles for the EU, for individual EU Member States as well as EFTA countries
- Agricultural products
- Agricultural production - orchards
- Agricultural production - crops
- Pig farming sector - statistical portrait 2014
Further Eurostat information
- Agriculture, forestry and fishery statistics — 2016 edition (Statistical book)
- Agriculture, forestry and fishery statistics — 2015 edition (Statistical book)
- Agriculture, forestry and fishery statistics — 2014 edition (Statistical book)
- Agriculture (t_agri), see:
- Agricultural production (t_apro)
- Poultry farming (t_apro_ec)
- Livestock and meat (t_apro_mt)
- Agriculture (agri), see:
- Agricultural production (apro)
- Poultry farming (apro_ec)
- Livestock and meat (apro_mt)
- Meat production (apro_mt_p)
- Livestock (apro_mt_ls)
- Structure of rearing (apro_mt_str)
Methodology / Metadata
- Livestock and meat (ESMS metadata file — apro_mt_esms)
Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)
- Regulation (EC) No 617/2008 of 27 June 2008 laying down detailed rules for implementing Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007 as regards marketing standards for eggs for hatching and farmyard poultry chicks
- Regulation (EC) No 1165/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 concerning livestock and meat statistics
- http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/newsroom/192_en.htm .
- 16 Member States provided data on selling prices of pigs (EUR per 100 kg live weight).
- Short Term Outlook for EU arable crops, dairy and meat markets: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/sites/agriculture/files/markets-and-prices/short-term-outlook/pdf/2016-3_en.pdf .
- 20 Member States provided data on selling prices of chickens (EUR per 100 kg live weight).