Sheep Reports

Sheep Council Report May 2020

Sheep in Wicklow

Market Report

  • Lamb Price. Latest Lamb Price Update. 21/5/2020. Supplies meeting demand. Retail sales and the end of Ramadan driving trade. Factories paying €6.20/6.30 for spring lambs. Hoggets coming to an end at €5.50/5.60. Ewes €2.50/2.80/kg.
  • Changeover. The changeover from hoggets to new season lamb has effectively happened, with the kill now on 60% New season and 40% hoggets.
  • Spring lambs now exceed hoggets w/e May 10th below. This is the latest full weekly data from DAFM as there has been a delay in data submission due to COVID, in some plants. Data for w/e May 17th will show a higher spring lamb kill.
  • Supplies are expected to rise quickly as the new season lambs becomes fit and ready for sale. The advice is as always – move lambs as they become fit.
  • COVID-19 and Numbers. Major concern about prices when new season lamb numbers rise and the market impact from the COVID-19 crisis is fully felt. The closure of the food service sector across the EU is a major blow to the markets.
  • Lamb is a high value product and needs high value outlets such as restaurants.
  • In the UK for week ending May 10th hoggets were £4.71/kg equivalent to €5.58/kg. New season lambs were on £5.14/kg, equivalent to €6.09/kg incl vat.
  • APS – no uptake to date at EU level. The restrictions limiting access to carcases and half carcases as opposed to cuts is an issue which IFA highlighted to the DAFM and Commission. APS may be needed as supply numbers increase and depending on the recovery in the food service markets.
  • Ramadan April 23rd to May 23rd. Eid al-Adha July 20th. to Aug 3rd.
  • Main New season Bord Bia Lamb TV promotions due to kick in on the first week of June.
  • New Zealand lamb exports have been hit hard by COVID-19, with EU exports for the month of April down 28% and exports year to date back 47%, mainly due to the closure of the food services sector.
  • IFA will continue to publish lamb prices twice weekly and all of the latest data is on
  • In conjunction with COPA at EU level, the IFA has lobbied for the following measures for the sheep sector. Immediately support farmers with direct payments for any price related market losses, APS for market support, review and suspend non-EU imports during the COVID-19 crisis, a new EU promotional programme for lamb targeted at retail level.

Budget 2021 Proposal

  • With 34,000 flock owners, sheep farming is the second largest sector in terms of farm numbers. The sector has an output of €450m with exports of 55,000t to 35 different countries.
  • The Sheep Welfare Scheme has been very positive and effective; sheep are major contributors to environmental preservation, particularly in hill and mountainous areas. The four-year scheme is due to conclude in Dec 2020.
  • IFA Proposal; A targeted payment of €30 per ewe through a combination of CAP and national funding for sheep farmers. Across the national flock of 2.57 million ewes, this would require funding of €77m pa.

Government Formation

  • €30 per ewe. IFA is lobbying for a targeted direct payment of €30 per ewe to be included in the Programme for Government as committed to by the political parties during the election campaign.

Sheep Census 2019

  • The Sheep census was published recently by the Department of Agriculture. The overall number of flock owners who declared that they had sheep in December 2019 was 34,938 which is a decrease of 248 (approx 0.7%) on the December 2018 figure of 35,186.
  • The census returns indicate that there were 3.8 million sheep (3,809,368) in the State on 31st December 2019, representing an increase of 2% (76,413) on the December 2018 figure of 3.73 million.
  • The 2019 figure includes 2.57 million breeding ewes over 12 months of age, which is an increase of approximately 11,000 (0.4%) on the previous year’s population of 2.56 million. The average number of sheep per flock was 109 compared to 106 in 2018 and 108 in 2017.

EU/NZ Trade Talks

  • The seventh round of EU negotiations with New Zealand on a new trade deal took place between March 30th and April 9th. EU are now discussing a 3,000t beef TRQ at 7.5% tariff and a safeguard clause on lamb.

Activity since last Council

  • IFA made a detailed submission to the Government and the EU Commission on the measures needed to support the sheep sector through COVID-19.
  • IFA National Sheep Management Committee meeting on April 29th
  • Lobby of TDs and Senators on Government formation and campaign for €30 per ewe.
  • Case to DAFM to allow sheep shearing and travel.
  • Ongoing contact with DAFM, Bord Bia, Sheep Ireland, and lamb factories on sheep issues.
  • Weekly publication of IFA Beef and Sheep Update and update of IFA What’s app groups on a weekly basis. See
  • IFA has written to app lamb producer groups as part of the Sheep Ireland Board elections.

EU/COPA Developments

  • COPA, the European umbrella body for farm organisations, which IFA is part of in Brussels, has submitted details for sheep market and direct payment supports for the sheep sector to the EU Commission, including IFA proposals.
  • IFA has lobbied and briefed senior EU Commission officials on the sheep issues and IFA proposals.
  • IFA working with FNO – French Sheep farmers and others on EU measures for the sheep sector.

Upcoming Issues/Priorities

  • Lamb Prices post Ramadan and as numbers increase. Promotions programme.
  • Push for sheep market and direct supports at EU level.
  • Lobby on the Programme for Government and campaign for €30 per ewe.
  • Full National Sheep Committee meeting scheduled for Monday May 25th.
  • Analysis of the EU Green Deal – Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategy and implications for sheep farmers.
ChairmanSean Dennehy
Director of LivestockKevin Kinsella

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