Agriculture has been at the very heart of Irish life for generations. In fact, up until the later decades of the 20th century the Irish economy depended almost exclusively on farming.
As we traveled throughout the country, it became evident that cattle and sheep production are important industries. In fact, according to livestock surveys, Ireland has 6.5 million cattle and 4.8 million sheep. While not as evident, surveys report 1.56 million pigs in Ireland. Beef is an important export: in 2011, Ireland exported more than 90 percent of its net beef output, making it the largest beef exporter in the EU and fourth largest in the world.