The sheep and goat population last year dwindled by 1.6 and 1.8 per cent, respectively, according to the National Statistics Office.

The NSO said that in December the sheep population amounted to 11,697 heads. Male sheep registered a 14.9 per cent drop, while lambs and ewes fell by five and 1.2 per cent, respectively. Ewe lambs increased by 3.1 per cent.

Seventy per cent of all sheep were located on holdings in Malta, the remaining 30 per cent on Gozo and Comino.

The goat population stood at 4,847 heads. There was a drop in male goats (-7.4 per cent) and goats that have already kidded (-2.9 per cent).

In contrast, kids and goats mated for the first time advanced by 7.4 and 2.8 per cent, respectively.

In comparison to 2011, the goat population decreased by 5.4 per cent in Malta and advanced by 10.9 per cent in Gozo and Comino. 3,657 goats (75.4 per cent) were found in Maltese holdings, 1,190 in Gozo and Comino.