Sheep Sector

Sheep Improvement Programme

For farmers that have joined the new Sheep Improvement Programme and had the purchase of a Genotyped ram included as a measure for this year. Following concern around the availability of these rams, (especially for some breeds) there may be an option to have the measure deferred if you are unable source a ram. In order to avail of this, you will need to contact the Department of Agriculture to clarify that you are unable to source a ram. If accepted, you will need to choose another option from Category B, for this year.

As outlined in previous newsletters and other media forums we are fighting on an ongoing basis to get direct support for the sector. The support measures we have sought are in addition to the Sheep Improvement Programme, available to all farmers and payable on farmer’s sheep census numbers that was submitted last February.

Sheep Markets

The pressure weighing down on the store lamb price has been further exacerbated by the fact that many traditional tillage farmers, who were crucial in the lamb store market, are no longer engaged in the practice. This shift in behaviour is primarily attributed to the new Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAEC) rules for tillage farmers, which have discouraged them from planting crops for sheep.

This change in practice is having a profound and alarming effect on the sheep sector and we are calling on the Minister to review and apply amendments to have this situation reversed.

This ongoing fall in the market price comes on the heels of the sheep sector grappling with increased costs, including those associated with shearing, while simultaneously facing the predicament of no market for wool 

The sheep sector is at a critical juncture, and without immediate intervention, its future is uncertain and this is why we are calling on the Government to act immediately and ensure the survival of this vital industry.

Driving on the Atlantic Hill Lamb brand

The INHFA has continued its successful promotion of light lamb through the Atlantic Hill Lamb brand which was been developed in conjunction with Kepak and Bord Bia.

The initiative started in 2017 and promotes light lamb with a carcass weight of 12 – 21.5kg. The specification in carcass confirmation and fat score of ‘O2’ – which is the minimum requirement of the light lamb market – was something we have focussed on by educating farmers since the project began.

All of the lambs supplied to the Atlantic Hill Lamb brand have to be Bord Bia approved. We have seen a big uptake in hill farmers becoming Bord Bia members which has allowed this project to continue to grow.

Farmers sometimes question why Bord Bia certification is required, which we have to admit we did at the start. However, having met quite a number of Kepak’s customers for the light lamb it is clear that supermarkets see it as a critical marketing tool and it is also important for the export market.

A recently new initiative and through intense negotiations, INHFA has secured a deal with Kepak where you can send your lambs through our group and pay only €1/lamb (.50c for transport & .50c for group management). This has resulted in increased interest in the group. Bookings are taken every Friday; you can contact us at 0719302715.

We will also continue to negotiate the best price for our premium product.