The average Irish flock size in 2013 was 107 ewes, increasing from 103 in 2012, according to the Teagasc National Farm Survey.

It found also that just 16% of farms had flocks of 150 ewes or more and these farms accounted for 17% of total lamb production.

Income on sheep farms in 2013 dramatically declined when compared to 2012 (-36%). This is despite the average lamb prices received by the farms in the Teagasc NFS sample being marginally higher in 2013 than in 2012 from an average of €94 in 2012 to €95 in 2013. (+1%).

The income decrease on sheep farms in 2013 of 36% was due to a combination of increased direct costs and lower output driven by lower levels of agricultural activity on farms.

Input expenditure on sheep farms increased in 2013, with direct costs up 15%. This increase was almost entirely due increases in feed costs.

Concentrate feed expenditure increased by almost 20% while expenditure on bulky feeds increased by 62%.

The average sheep farmer operates a 53 hectare holding with approximately 137 ewes. The average stocking rate is 1.04 livestock units per hectare. The average Single Farm Payment per hectare is €229 for sheep farms, the lowest of all farm systems and considerably lower than the national average of €302 per hectare.

Direct payments per farm averaged at €18,569 in 2013, comprising 158% of farm income