By Muhammed Ali Gurtas
The total number of animals in Turkey reached 59.7 million heads this June, a 6.8 percent rise since the beginning of 2017, according to official animal production statistics released on Tuesday.
The number of bovine animals, including cattle and buffalo, reached 14.8 million heads in June, up 4.2 percent in the first six months, the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) said.
The central Anatolian province of Konya, Turkey's biggest by area, has the largest number of cattle with 0.8 million heads, followed by the eastern province of Erzurum (0.7 million heads), and the Aegean province of Izmir with 0.6 million heads.
The total number of ovine animals rose 7.8 percent over the same period, reaching 44.6 million heads, including 33.6 million sheep and 11 million goats.
Van, a province in eastern Anatolia, had the top number of sheep (2.7 million heads), while the Mediterranean province of Antalya had the highest number of goats, with 0.8 million.
TurkStat also said that there were 0.3 million heads of donkey, horses, mules, camels, and pigs in Turkey as of June.
Meanwhile, the number of poultry animals -- chickens, turkeys, ducks, and goose -- rose to nearly 351 million heads, up 5.2 percent hike from the end of 2016.
Approximately 231 million heads of broiler hen and 115 million heads of laying hens were counted under chickens, which constitutes 98.6 percent of all poultry animals in Turkey.
TurkStat releases animal production statistics twice a year. The data are collected through province and district directorates of Turkey's Food, Agriculture and Livestock Ministry.
In the first six months of this year, Turkey's live animal exports stood at $16.2 million, while the country imported $548 million worth of live animals, according to TurkStat.
Last year Turkey imported around $600 million worth of live animals and exported nearly $30 million.
The share of the sub-group "agriculture, forestry and fishing" in the country's semi-annual gross domestic product was 3.5 percent, with around 49 billion Turkish liras (some $13.5 billion).
In 2016, all economic activities for agriculture, forestry, and fishing, which also include raising livestock, had a 6.2 percent share in the nation's economy, totaling nearly 161.3 billion Turkish liras (around $53.4 billion).