Earlier in the week, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) announced the opening of the Sheep Improvement Scheme (SIS).

The €20 million scheme will replace the current Sheep Welfare Scheme (SWS) in 2023 under the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The SIS is to provide financial support to farmers for taking extra steps to improve the welfare of their flock. Farmers are to get €12/breeding ewe for completing flock welfare measures.

The €12/head payment will be broken down as follows:

  • Payment for a Category A action: €7.00;
  • Payment for a Category B action: €5.00.

Scheme start date

The first year of the scheme will run from February 1, 2023, and will end on December 31, 2023.

Each subsequent year of the scheme will run from January 1, to the December 31, each year.

How to qualify for the scheme

In order for farmers to quality for the scheme, they 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.

In order to quality for payment, farmers must complete two welfare measures. The big change to the SIS from the SWS is the genotype ram action, which farmers must complete at least once within the first three years of scheme participation.

A list of what measures both lowland and hill flocks can undertake for the scheme are provided in the table below.

The SIS will contribute to improved sheep welfare through
targeted intervention actions as set out in the above table of actions

The DAFM said that those entered into the scheme must also maintain the necessary records and comply with the terms and conditions of the SIS, which include that those undertaking parasite control must use the approved list of laboratories for sampling.


Existing sheep farmers who wish to participate in the SIS must apply to join the scheme before the December 19, 2022 deadline.

The DAFM said that it will not be possible for existing sheep farmers to apply to join the scheme in subsequent years although provision will be made for new entrants to sheep farming.

Stay tuned to Agriland for further information on the scheme.