With some 90% of Ireland's agricultural land devoted to pasture and hay, the main activity of the farming community is the production of grazing animals and other livestock, which account for about 53% of agricultural exports. In 2001, total livestock output was valued at €2 billion, with cattle and milk each accounting for around 40%. In 1999, livestock output was up2.9% from 1990. The estimated livestock population in 2001 was 7,264,000 head of cattle (including 1.3 million dairy cows), 7,498,000, 1,764,000 pigs, and 13,211,000 poultry. In 2001, butter production was estimated at 129,000 tons, cheese 127,000 tons, and wool (greasy) 12,000 tons. Milk production in 2001 was 5,345,000 tons.
Since livestock is a major element in the country's economy, the government is particularly concerned with improving methods of operation and increasing output. A campaign for eradication of bovine tuberculosis was completed in 1965, and programs are under way for eradication of bovine brucellosis, warble fly, and sheep scab.