Sheep Reports

Sheep Council Reports July 2022

  1. Market Report 
  • Lamb Price: Spring lambs are making €7.40 to €7.60kg on weights to 21/kg. Cull Ewe prices are ranging from €3.80 to €4.00kg in general 
  • Supplies: Total throughput to date is 1,354,670 head which represents an 11% increase when compared to the same period in 2021. Spring lamb throughput is running 55,021 head or 15% behind the same period in 2021. Hogget throughput has falling in recent weeks but increased numbers presented to slaughter in early spring has resulted in a 28% increase in overall throughput to date. 
  • Market Conditions; Lamb prices steadied in the past week with increased demand for the EID al-Adha festival commencing on July 9th. Live shippers continue to drive the trade with live prices up to €3.65 paid for suitable ram lambs for the upcoming festival. Cull ewe trade is strong on the back of increased demand for processed sheep meat in the UK and EU. Mart trade remains positive as factory agents compete with wholesalers and live shippers for lambs on the ground.  
  • The EU lamb flock decreased by 3.7% in December 2021. A 2% decline in production is forecasted in 2022 as a result. Combined with China continuing to drive global sheep meat trade New Zealand and Australian sheep meat exports continue to be directed towards the China/US and Asian markets creating positive market conditions in our main export markets.  
  • IFA met with MII and sheep factory management. Issues raised included importance of strong lamb prices, imports and concerns for the store lamb trade. 
  • 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. Dog Control  
  • IFA met Minister Humphreys and McConalogue on May 18th to discuss Dog control legislation.  
  • IFA have written to both Ministers 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. 
  • Committee members continue to promote the ‘No Dogs allowed’ campaign in their local regions. 
  1. Input Crises 
  • IFA met Minister of Agriculture Charlie McConalogue on May 18th to discuss input challenges facing the sheep sector. 
  • IFA has written to the Minister demanding immediate direct financial support for sheep farmers.  
  • Following IFA demands the Minister announced a €56m silage support package providing farmers with a €100/ha payment for all silage cut up to a maximum of 10ha. 
  • IFA successfully secured Category 1 ANC land in the scheme following intense lobbying from Sheep committee members.  
  • IFA continue to seek additional direct supports for sheep farmers to offset the increased costs for feed, fertiliser and fuel on farms based of their levels of production.  
  • IFA have called for supports for farmers to plant catch crops to help support the store lamb trade this Autumn.  
  1.  CAP 

Sheep Improvement Scheme 

  • IFA met senior DAFM personnel on 25th April and again set out the demands of the sheep sector in the new CAP 
  • The scheme must have a funding allocation to deliver €30/ewe to all participant farmers. 
  • The proposed €20m/annum scheme with proposed payments of €12/ewe will only be available to 1.7m ewes, this is less than the numbers of ewes in the current Sheep Welfare Scheme. 
  • Almost 1m ewes are left behind in the proposed new sheep scheme funding allocation. 
  • With over 2.6m ewes in the country the proposed funding for the scheme will only deliver a payment of €7.70/ewe based on the most recent census figures. 
  • The scheme must have a budget to deliver €30/ewe to all ewes in the country. 
  • The current proposal lack ambition to provide the opportunity for participants to generate €30/ewe and must be amended through increased/updated costings and additional practical and beneficial measures. 
  • The reference period must reflect the actual levels of activity on farms. New entrants to the sector must be allowed time to establish their flocks while participating in the scheme and have this recognised in the reference numbers. 
  • Following IFA’s rejection to the inclusion of membership of the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme, this condition has been removed from the proposals. 
  • IFA sought the inclusion of shearing as an action in the scheme.  
  • Shearing has become a very expensive on farm practice for sheep farmers due to the collapse in the wool market. This is a critical animal health and welfare measure for sheep farmers which is ideally placed for inclusion in a targeted sheep scheme.  
  • Genotyped Rams/Parentage verification in the SIS. 
  • This measure must recognise home bred genotyped/sire verified rams. 
  • Farmers must be allowed carry out this measure when it is suitable for the farm without prior notification. 
  • Additional payment should be provided for this measure. 

Specific issues raised with DAFM regarding the new SIS proposed terms and conditions 

  • The reference period for the SIS should be based on a rolling reference period to accurately reflect the levels of activity on participant farms for established flocks and new entrants to the sector. 
  • 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. 
  • The requirement to nominate the year/s the genotyped/parentage verified action in the scheme on the first year of application must not be a compliance requirement.  
  • Requesting an indication as to the year/s the measure is intended to be applied is understandable however, once a farmer meets the requirement at any point within the term of the scheme it must be accepted as meeting the criteria. 
  • This measure must recognise home bred genotyped/sire verified rams. 
  • Throughout the duration of the scheme existing sheep farmers who do not apply to the scheme in the first year must be accepted into the scheme if it is decided to partake in subsequent years. 

            Early-stage support for Producer Organisations 

  • IFA met DAFM officials on April 25th on the newly proposed scheme. 
  • IFA held a lamb producer group information meeting for all existing lamb producer groups in the country. DAFM officials were in attendance and presented details of the upcoming scheme. 
  • IFA have consistently called for existing producer groups to be included in the scheme recognising the vital role they play in supporting sheep farmers. 

Agri Environmental Scheme 

  • The new Agri-environmental scheme must deliver €10,000 to sheep farmers. 
  1. Sheep Welfare Scheme 2021 and 2022 
  • IFA secured new reference periods worth an additional €5m over the two years 2021 and 2022 for sheep farmers participating in the scheme. 
  • 2021 SWS balance payments were issued to farmers in June. 
  1. Wool 
  • The content of the long-awaited Wool Feasibility Study, which was recently published offers very little to farmers. 
  • €100,000 has been spent and a lot of time lost for a report that merely confirms what industry and farmers already know. 
  • The recommendations of the report are another tactic to delay supporting farmers for what is a huge cost burden on sheep farms. 
  • IFA will actively participate in the proposed Wool Council, but this forum if successful will not have any meaningful impact on the price of wool at the farm gate for the foreseeable future.   
  • We are in another clipping season with wool prices of 20c/kg providing no incentive for farmers to present the wool for further added value use. 
  • The Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and his colleague Minister Pippa Hackett have hidden behind this report for the past two years to avoid addressing the issue for sheep farmers. 
  • There are no immediate pathways identified that will increase the value of wool at the farm gate and direct support for farmers for this critically important animal health and welfare practice on farms must be provided. 
  • The report does recognise the substantive point that IFA have consistently put forward in stating: ‘The buy-in of farmers to the potential value of wool is essential as without it, every other player along the value chain will be happy to exploit this resource without rewarding the primary producers. 
  • IFA has sought the inclusion of shearing as an action in the new Sheep Improvement Scheme throughout the CAP process, but the Minister and his officials have refused to include it. 
  • The Minister must now come forward with his 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. 
  1. Electronic Funds Transfer 
  • IFA met MII and sheep factory management on July 13th to further discuss EFT to be provided as an option of payment to sheep farmers. 
  • IFA has written to each sheep processing plant demanding the option to have payments issued to farmers through EFT. 
  • Committee members made contact with their local factory’s communications in December on the issue. 
  1. Budget Submission 
  • The sheep sector is currently experiencing extraordinary inflation on all key inputs including fertilizer, fuel and feed. This low-income vulnerable sector does not have the capacity to absorb the type and level of cost increases being experienced.  Direct support measures including subsidies to offset the dependency on inputs based on their levels of production must be provided immediately to sheep farmers. 

             Sheep Improvement Scheme 

  • The sheep improvement scheme must be funded appropriately through a combination of CAP and National funding to deliver €30/ewe to our 2.69m breeding ewes. 

              Producer Organisations  

  • The Government must ensure all existing lamb producer groups can easily avail of the Early-Stage Producer Organisation funding and funding levels are provided to support all applicants from the sheep sector. 


  • Direct supports to offset the costs associated with shearing. 
  • Shearing should be included as a measure in the Sheep Improvement Scheme to support farmers carrying out this vital health and welfare measure and to ensure wool is presented in optimum condition for future added value use. 
  • Government should create incentives for wool to be the insulation of choice in home and commercial insulation and make it mandatory for Irish wool insulation to be used in all social housing projects and public buildings.  
  • Sheep shearing equipment included to the new on-farm capital investment scheme. 

             Dog control 

  • Government must provide appropriate resources and funding to allow an effective operational Dog Warden service in every county with staffing levels that ensure enforcement of the obligations of dog owners. 

             Supports for the sheep sector on inputs costs 

  • Direct financial supports for sheep farmers based on their levels of production to offset the increased cost of feed, fertilizer and fuel. 
  • Additional funding must be provided for Catch/fodder crops. 
  • The €1000 ceiling payment per farm must be re-visited in recognition of those farms with higher stocking levels with all payments made in full for all hectares claimed. 
  • All lands must be utilised to produce food incl. Low Input Permanent Pasture, Traditional Hay Meadows ad Wild Bird Cover. 
  1. Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) 
  • IFA have made a detailed submission on the Brexit Adjustment reserve setting out potential Mitigants and support measures for Sheep farmers impacted through Brexit.  
  • The BAR fund must be utilised to directly support sheep farmers to safeguard their farm income situation from the potential impacts of Brexit which looms over the sector. 
  • Direct / compensatory aid for revenue lost, paid direct to impacted farmers 

Subventions on added cost of production. 

Measures to explore the alternative use of wool (e.g. insulation; renewables; 


  • Support paid direct to farmer to cover shearing expenses and present wool at 

highest possible standard to minimise washing/cleaning requirements = 


  • Measures, including direct-aid to support improved performance, efficiency 

and/or sustainability of the agricultural holding to support improved 

income resilience. 

  • Measures to reduce reliance on inputs by directly supporting farmers to 

implement measures that improve soil health and animal health leading to 

higher production efficiencies, recognising time, labour and management 

commitments of farmers to achieve same. 

  • Measures to promote On-Farm Diversification. 
  • Measures to support Intergenerational Renewal / Collaboration type supports/models. 
  1. Activity since last Council 
  • IFA convened a lamb producer group information meeting on June 28th. Speakers from the Department of Agriculture, Bord Bia and Teagasc were in attendance. 
  • Met with UFU in London on June 15th to discuss challenges facing the sheep sector. 
  • Met Ministers Humphreys and McConalogue on dog legislation on May 18th.  
  • Met DAFM officials on Early-stage support for Producer Organisations, fodder support schemes and Sheep Improvement scheme. 
  • Met Minister McConalogue to discuss the current input crisis and supports for farmers.  
  • Sheep committee meeting on June 28th.  
  • Weekly publication of IFA Sheep price updates. 
  • Met MII on July 13th to discuss input challenges, CAP, EFT, QA bonus, sheep imports and third country trade deals. 
  1. Upcoming issues  
  • Pre budget submissions.    
  • Continue to pursue supports to of set the impact of the input’s crisis on sheep farms. 
  • Brexit Adjustment fund. 
  • Ongoing ‘No Dogs Allowed Campaign’. 
  • Sheep Industry Working Group. 
  • Participation in the Wool Council. 
  • Ongoing contact with Bord Bia, processing plants and MII to progress IFA’s calls to advance the Quality Assurance bonus to 30c/kg. 
  • €30/ewe payment. 
  • Ongoing contact with Sheep Ireland. 

Related Articles