Sheep Reports

Sheep Council Report February 2024

  1. Market Report  
  • Lamb Price: Lambs are making €7.00 to €7.20kg on weights to 23kg. Cull Ewe prices are ranging from €2.80 to €3.30kg in general. 
  • Supplies: Total throughput to date in 2024 is 203,050 head which represents a 3% decrease when compared to the same period in 2023.  Lamb throughput is running 8,801 head or 5% behind the same period in 2023. Ewe and Ram throughput is running 6,131 head or back -22% from the same period in 2023. 
  • Market Conditions; Lamb prices have steadily moved upwards in recent weeks. Tighter lamb supplies across mainland Europe have contributed to this uplift in deadweight prices. Demand for lamb both domestically and in export markets have shown signs of recovery but as the highest priced protein it continues to expose shifts in consumer buying habits in response to high levels of inflation. Bord Bia are predicting a carryover of approx. 40,000 lambs into 2024. Later lambing, high production costs and poor weather has influenced this.  
  • Irish sheep meat exports were valued at over €440m during 2023, a 7% decline on 2022 figures with the volume of sheep meat exports holding relatively stable during 2023 at 77,000 tonnes. The decline in value sales is a direct result of much more challenging trading conditions, with higher levels of imports from non-EU markets (UK, Aus and NZ), particularly in the second half of 2023 which has been competing against Irish lamb in our key markets. 
  • Continued engagement with MII and sheep factory management.  
  • Increased QA Bonus: IFA continue to pursue an increase in the QA bonus to 30c/kg and have had discussions with Bord Bia, MII and factory representatives on the issue. 
  • Farmers are encouraged to sell hard while moving lambs as they become fit. 
  • IFA publish lamb price updates twice weekly with a comprehensive market report on Friday  all of the latest data is available at 
  1. Activity  
  • Met the Dept of Agriculture on the new National Sheep Identification System in November 9th. securing the roll out of the first phase of electronic notification of sheep movements. 
  • Met the Dept of Agriculture on the Sheep Improvement Scheme on November 15th.  
  • Sheep committee meeting convened on November 16th
  • Attended the Copa Cogeca working party on Sheep meat & Goatmeat on November 22nd
  • Attended Civil Dialogue Group on Sheep meat on November 22nd.  
  • Attended the wool council meeting in December. 
  • Met with the Dept of Agriculture on the new sheep scheme for 2024 on January 18th.  
  • Met with Bord Bia in January.  
  • Attended Sheep Ireland meeting on January 18th
  • Sheep committee update meeting convened online on January 23rd.  
  • Attended a consultation meeting on the proposed ban of the use of e collars on dogs in January. 
  • Weekly publication of IFA sheep price updates. 
  1. Dog Control 
  • IFA made a submission to the Dept of Agriculture on the proposed ban on the use of remotely controlled electronic shock collars on dogs. 
  • IFA will re-launch the ‘No Dogs Allowed Campaign’ in the coming weeks. 
  • Committee members continue to promote the ‘No Dogs allowed’ campaign in their local regions and have been active lobbying local TD’s and Ministers for increased sanctions for irresponsible dog ownership. 
  • IFA proposals include; 
  1. A single National Database for all dogs corelating licensing and microchipping and identifying the person responsible for the dog but at a minimum alignment of the existing licensing and microchipping records to one central access point. 
  1. Full enforcement of microchipping and licensing obligations of dog owners for all dogs. 
  1. Stronger powers of enforcement for dog wardens and Gardaí and clarity of these powers. 
  1. Increased on the spot fines for failing to comply with the microchipping and licensing requirements. 
  1. Increased sanctions and on the spot fines for failing to have the dog under control. 
  1. Significant on the spot fines for dogs found worrying livestock. 
  1. Legal requirement for dogs to be microchipped and licensed and identified on the NVPS (National Veterinary Prescribing System) prior to any veterinary treatment or prescribing of medicines by veterinary practitioners. 
  1. Authority to apply the legislative obligations to dogs in border regions owned by persons not resident in the state. 
  1. Sheep Improvement Scheme 
  • IFA met with the DAFM on the SIS in November. 
  • 18,627 applications have made applied to the scheme accounting for 1.9m ewes. 
  • The €12/ewe payment must be built on to provide €30/ewe. 
  • IFA successfully secured an amendment to the Genotyped ram action allowing farmers to choose an alternative year if unable to secure a 4/5 star ram in the year nominated.  
  • IFA are seeking changes to the retention period in the scheme. 
  1. €8/ewe Sheep scheme 
  • Following a number of IFA protests, public meetings and intense lobbying from Sheep committee members IFA secured an additional €8/ewe payment in Budget 2024 for sheep farmers, bringing direct supports to a combined €20/ewe. 
  • IFA met with the Dept of Agriculture to discuss the terms and conditions of the new scheme in January. 
  • IFA have sought the most up-to-date reference number for scheme participants to reflect the number of ewes currently on farm. 
  • €15m funding has been allocated to the scheme with payment available for over 1.87m ewes. 
  • The scheme will consist of two categories with two actions worth €4 per category. 
  • Participants will select one measure from each category 
  • Measures such as Shearing, BCS, Plunge Dipping and Clostridial vaccination are proposed to be included in the scheme 
  • The scheme is expected to open for applications late Q1 / early Q2. 
  • Payments will be issued to farmers in December 2024. 
  1.  Review of Bord Bia Origin Green Producer Standard 
  • IFA categorically rejected at the September meeting of the TAC the Bord Bia proposal to include as a ‘Recommendation’ in the producer standard that all animals would be purchased from QA farms. 
  • The next module to be discussed is Module D which incorporates Animal Welfare. 
  • The first meeting on this section is due to take place on 21st March. 
  1. Wool 
  • IFA attended the wool council meeting in December.  
  • IFA continues to pursue the inclusion of shearing as an action in the new Sheep Improvement Scheme to offset the huge losses incurred for this farm practise.  
  • It costs approx. €8 to present a 3kg fleece rolled and packed on a farm. Costing farmers over €21m annually. Shearing costs must be directly supported to incentivise farmers carrying out this vital health and welfare measure and to ensure wool is presented in optimum condition for future added value use. 
  1. Early-stage support for producer organisations 
  • IFA continues to engage with DAFM on the new scheme and is expected to open for applications in Q1 2024.  
  • IFA has demanded all existing lamb producer groups are eligible for this support. 
  1. Electronic Transfer of Funds (EFT) 
  • IFA met with MII and called for all meat processors to offer Electronic Transfer of Funds (ETF) as a payment method to sheep farmers. Two major sheep processing plants have moved to provide EFT as a payment method option for sheep farmers. 
  1.      Upcoming issues 
  • Ongoing ‘No Dogs Allowed Campaign’. 
  • Utilisation of the €8/ewe payment.  
  • Dawn meats acquisition of Kildare Chilling. 
  • Bord Bia Origin Green Producer Standard review. 
  • Electronic funds transfer. 
  • Continued participation in the Wool Council. 
  • €30/ewe payment. 
  • Sheep Industry Working Group. 
  • Upcoming sheep committee meeting. 
  • Ongoing contact with Bord Bia, processing plants and MII to progress IFA’s calls to advance the Quality Assurance bonus to 30c/kg. 
  • Ongoing contact with Sheep Ireland. 

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