Key details of €25m sheep scheme revealed

Following a meeting with the IFA’s National Sheep Committee, the Department of Agriculture has outlined some of the key details of the €25m Animal Welfare Sheep Scheme.

Led by Sheep Committee Chairman John Lynskey, the IFA discussed details of the new sheep scheme with senior officials from the Department at the Irish Farm Centre in Dublin this week.

John Lynskey said that the next step is to finalise the arrangements on the scheme with the EU Commission in Brussels.

The IFA sheep farmer leader said he expects the scheme will be finalised before year-end, clearing the way for an early application, expected to be in 2017.

It is very important that the maximum number of sheep farmers apply for the scheme and all of the €25m funding is drawn down and paid out to sheep farmers.

Lynskey said IFA has highlighted the need to strongly promote the scheme and encourage sheep farmers to apply to the Department.

In addition, he said IFA has also outlined the need to accommodate young farmers and new entrants under the application arrangements.

“The scheme needs to provide flexibility on numbers and on the options farmers can select to best suit their enterprise in order to draw down all the funding.”

In addition, he said the administration under the scheme must be minimal.

Sheep farmers will have nine different options in total and it is proposed they will be divided into two categories, with farmers required to choose an option from each category.

Details of the options outlined by the Department of Agriculture:

Lowland Flock

For lowland flocks, there will be two categories A and B. Lameness and Mineral Supplementation fall under Category A.

Category A

Lameness

Farmer required to carry out five lameness examinations per year at prescribed times, recording incidence and scoring.

Mineral supplementation of ewes

Supplement minerals to ewes post-mating to help combat deficiencies, reducing still births and mortality.

Parasite control, scanning, flystrike and breeding all fall under Category B for lowland farmers.

Category B

Parasite control

Farmers required to undertake two faecal egg counts per annum to establish worm burden.

Scanning

Scan ewes 80 days after ram turnout. Mark, divide and feed according to litter size.

Flystrike

Introduce a flystrike programme during high risk months through chemical control and dagging.

Breeding

Purchase of 3-4 or 5-star rated ram per 40 ewes on terminal or replacement index before the end of year three of the scheme.

Hill Flock

For farmers with hill flocks of sheep there will also be two categories. Mineral supplementation of ewes and meal feeding post-weaning fall under Category A.

Category A

Mineral supplementation of ewes

Supplement minerals to ewes post-mating to help combat deficiencies, reducing still births and mortality.

Meal feeding post-weaning

Feeding a suitable lamb ration containing minerals for four weeks post-weaning.

Meanwhile, parasite control, scanning, mineral supplementation of lambs, breeding or parentage recorded ram fall under Category B.

Category B

Parasite control

Undertake one faecal egg count on lambs for worms or one on ewes for liver fluke.

Scanning

Scan ewes 80 days after ram turnout. Mark, divide and feed according to litter size.

Mineral supplementation of Lambs

Supplement lambs with minerals pre-weaning in hill flocks

Breeding OR Parentage recorded ram

Purchase of 3-4 or 5 star rated ram per 40 ewes on terminal or replacement index before the end of year three of the scheme OR Purchase parentage recorded ram per 40 ewes for one breeding season before end of year three.

The reference period for the maximum number of ewes eligible for payment will be based on the average of 2014 and 2015 ewes in the sheep census, with farmers paid on the actual numbers the apply on in 2016 or future years, according to IFA.

Farmers participating in GLAS and as part of their Commonage Management Plan or Farm Plan are required to increase numbers above these levels will be paid on the higher numbers, it confirmed.