Sheep Reports

Sheep Council Report July 2023

  1. Market Report  
  • Lamb Price: Spring lambs are making €7.20 to €7.50kg. Cull Ewe prices are ranging from €3.30 to €3.80kg in general. 
  • Supplies: Total throughput to date in 2023 is 1,508,303 head which represents a 1% increase when compared to the same period in 2022.  Hogget throughput is running 82,549 head or 9% ahead of the same period in 2022. Spring lamb throughput is running 52,524 head or 12% behind the same period in 2022. 
  • Market Conditions; Increased demand from key export markets in the run up the religious festival Eid al Adha contributed to some increases in producer returns in June however lamb prices have come under significant pressure over the past fortnight. The lamb market in our key export markets in the EU has also been difficult where the impact of increasing living costs, high levels of food inflation and reduced consumer spending power has had a detrimental effect on lamb sales. 
  • The outlook for Irish lamb in 2023 remains challenging with Irish exporters potentially competing with increased volumes of UK lamb into the EU market with further additional imports expected from southern hemisphere countries. 
  • 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 and all of the latest data is available at 
  1. Activity since last National Council 
  • Attended wool council meetings in April. 
  • Sheep committee meeting convened on May 31st
  • Attended the Copa Cogeca Working Party on Sheep meat on June 8th.  
  • Attended the Civil Dialogue meeting on sheep on June 12th.   
  • Attend the Bord Bia Meat & Livestock meeting on 12th June. 
  • Met with wool exporters on June 16th
  • Attended the Sheep 2023 event in Gurteen College on June 17th.  
  • Met with the Food vision Sheep group on June 26th.  
  • Attended the Sheep Ireland AGM on June 29th.  
  • Met the Dept of Agriculture on Monday 3rd on the National sheep identification system.  
  • Sheep committee Budget submission. 
  • Weekly publication of IFA sheep price updates. 
  1. Budget 2024    
  • IFA are proposing a targeted payment per ewe to be built to a minimum of €30/ewe: 

This can be achieved by; 

  • Enhancing the measures in the existing Sheep Improvement Scheme and review of the costings for the measures in the scheme to build the payment levels. 
  • Developing a separate targeted scheme for sheep farmers that supports animal health and welfare actions on farms. 
  • Sheep scab has become a serious challenge for sheep farmers and impacts on the health, welfare and productivity of our animals. Plunge dipping is recognised as one of the most effective means of treating this problem on farms. However, this is a labour intensive and expensive practice on low-income sheep farms. 
  • IFA are proposing sheep farmers be paid €10/ewe to plunge dip sheep recognising the cost and labour requirement of the action to address the growing problem of sheep scab in the National flock. 
  • The Wool Council has been established in an attempt to add value to wool. In reality the workings of this group will not offer any short or medium-term solutions that will add value to wool at farm gate level. 
  • It is vital for the downstream value of wool to be maximised that cleaning and processing costs are kept to a minimum. 
  • To achieve this, presenting wool in optimum condition from the farm is important.  
  • This requires additional time and labour commitment from sheep farmers which is not reflected in the price paid for wool. 
  • Farmer’s must be supported directly for the costs and labour associated with shearing and presenting wool in optimum condition from the farm. 
  • IFA are proposing sheep farmers be provided with €8/ewe support for the shearing and presenting wool to ensure the downstream value of this multi-use renewable resource is maximised. 
  • Store lamb finishers play a pivotal role in sheep production, maintaining a year-round supply of sheep meat for processors and providing a vital outlet for hill sheep farmers to have their lambs finished. 
  • IFA are proposing a direct payment for farmers finishing store lambs to offset production costs and ensure the store lamb sellers are protected from the volatility of the market. 
  • Dog attacks continue to cause unacceptable trauma and financial loss on sheep farms through failure to enforce the legal obligations on dog owners. 
  • IFA are proposing the resources required to provide the additional dog wardens to enforce the legal obligations on dog wardens as recommended in the report to Government from the working group are made available and the additional wardens put in place as a matter of urgency. 
  1. Dog Control 
  • The working group on the control of dogs submitted its interim report for consideration and approval to Government to both Ministers responsible for this area in March.  
  • The report is expected to be complete in Q3 2023 and once approved it will be published. 
  • 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 have met and written to both Ministers Humphreys and McConalogue calling on a number of key issues that requires addressing. 
  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 
  • 19,100 applications were made for the new scheme. 
  • The Genotyped ram action must be amended to allow farmers carry out this action when most suitable for them in the 5 years of the scheme and when there is a competitive supply of these rams available in the market place.  
  • Further flexibilities may be needed to assist farmers in meeting this requirement. 
  • January 2024 scanning should be allowed for the first year of the scheme to increase farmers scheme options. 
  • New entrants to sheep farming must be provided with the opportunity to build their flocks. A rolling reference number for the period the flock is being established is required. Throughout the duration of the scheme existing sheep farmers and new entrants who do not apply to the scheme in the first year must be accepted into the scheme in subsequent years. 
  • All farmers applying to the scheme that meet the eligibility criteria must be accepted into the scheme and paid on all ewes on the farm. 


  • IFA attended the wool council meeting in April followed by a meeting with wool exporters in June. 
  • 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. An €8/ewe support for the shearing and presenting wool in optimum condition for further use. 
  • IFA has consistently called on the Minister of Agriculture to come forward with proposals to support sheep farmers directly for the shearing costs with incentives to ensure the wool is presented in optimal condition for further added value uses. 
  • 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. 
  • There are huge opportunities to develop a unique brand for Irish wool and this work must begin immediately. 
  1. Electronic Funds Transfer 
  • Following intense lobbying by sheep committee members the first major sheep processing plant has moved to provide farmers with the option of EFT. 
  1. Upcoming issues 
  • Budget 2024. 
  • €30/ewe payment. 
  • Ongoing contact with Sheep Ireland. 
  • Brexit Adjustment fund. 
  • Ongoing contact with Bord Bia, processing plants and MII to progress IFA’s calls to advance the Quality Assurance bonus to 30c/kg. 
  • Ongoing ‘No Dogs Allowed Campaign’. 
  • Upcoming sheep committee meetings. 
  • Continue to pursue supports to offset the impact of the input crisis on sheep farms. 
  • Continued participation in the Wool Council. 

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