Sheep Improvement Scheme

The Sheep Improvement Scheme is now closed as of January 9th, 2023.
Information last updated May 19th, 2023

All details are taken from the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine ‘Schemes & Payments’ section located here.
Please check this section for the latest information and updates relating to Farm Schemes & Payments.

What is the Sheep Improvement Scheme?

The Sheep Improvement Scheme provides financial support to farmers for taking extra steps to improve the welfare of their flock. Farmers get €12 per breeding ewe for completing flock welfare measures.

How to qualify 

To qualify for the scheme, you must:

• submit a Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) application for each year of scheme participation

• submit a sheep census return for each year during the lifetime of the scheme – an exception is made for new entrants in year of entry

• have an active herd number – or be a new entrant – and keep breeding ewes

• maintain the required number of breeding ewes during the scheme

You must complete two welfare measures to qualify for payment.

It will also be necessary to complete the Genotyped Ram action at least once within the first three years of scheme participation.

If you have a reference number of breeding ewes of 150 breeding ewes or less, you will only need to complete the Genotyped Ram action once. If you have a reference number greater than 150, you will have to complete the Genotyped Ram action twice over the lifetime of the scheme, once within the first three years of the scheme and once in any subsequent scheme year.

The targeted welfare areas include:

•    lameness control

•    mineral supplementation of ewes post mating

•    meal feeding lambs post weaning

•    parasite control (faecal egg count)

•    management of pregnant ewes (scanning)

•    flystrike control

•    Genotyped Ram Action

• Mineral supplementation of lambs pre-weaning

You must also maintain the necessary records and comply with the Terms and Conditions of the Sheep Improvement Scheme including those undertaking parasite control must use the approved list of laboratories for sampling.

The Sheep Improvement Scheme has been introduced to enhance animal health and welfare in the sheep sector and requires farmers to go beyond mandatory standards. These are the conditions of the scheme.

Rate of Payment

You are paid €12 per breeding ewe and the scheme year will run from 1 February 2023 to 31 December 2023. Reductions in payment will apply where not all actions are completed.

How to Apply

Applications are made by completing the Sheep Improvement Scheme online application form available on

Applications for the Sheep Improvement Scheme are open from Monday 21st November 2022 to midnight, Monday 9th January 2023.

If you have forgotten your login or password, or are having any difficulties logging on, you can e-mail the Department at or Telephone: 049 4368288;

Sheep Improvement Scheme Criteria 

This table is a summary of the actions required to qualify for the Sheep Improvement Scheme, for a more detailed guidance document on these actions please click here.

Lowland FlockHill Flock
Category A ActionCategory A Action
Lameness ControlMineral Supplementation Ewes Post Mating
Mineral Supplementation Ewes Post MatingMeal Feeding Lambs Post Weaning*
Parasite Control (Faecal Egg Count)Parasite Control (Faecal Egg Count) 
Category B Action Category B Action 
Genotyped Ram**Genotyped Ram**
Scanning and recording of resultsScanning and recording of results
Flystrike controlMineral Supplementation Lambs Pre Weaning*

** Applicant must select the year(s) in which they will carry out the ram genotyped action

* Hill flocks may not choose both Mineral supplementation of lambs Pre-Weaning and Meal feeding of lambs Post Weaning. 

For a list of approved laboratories for the Parasite Control (Faecal Egg Count) task please click here.

Terms and Conditions

For the full Sheep Improvement Scheme Terms and Conditions please click here.