Year six of the Sheep Welfare Scheme will open on February 1, with a new budget of €19.5 million, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has confirmed.

As in previous years, all existing participants in the scheme will be automatically enrolled in year six, and do not need to take any action should they wish to remain in the scheme.

The minister said: “I was very pleased to be able to secure additional funding for the scheme in Budget 2022 and it underlines my commitment to the sheep sector.

“The allocation for the Sheep Welfare Scheme has increased from €17 million in 2021 to €19.5 million in 2022 to cover the continuation of the scheme in 2022 and the change to reference year.

“The Sheep Welfare Scheme provides a valuable support to sheep farmers for undertaking actions which make a positive contribution to flock welfare,” he added.

Minister McConalogue is urging all eligible new entrants to the sector who wish to apply to participate in the scheme to return their forms by February 1.

For the purpose of the scheme, a new entrant to sheep farming is defined as an applicant who has applied for a new herd number in the period January 1 to December 31, in the year preceding the scheme year, or an applicant with an existing herd number who has not held or traded in sheep for a two-year period up to October 31, preceding the scheme year.

Sheep trade

The sheep trade is starting the week on a steady note, with lamb prices generally holding to the same levels as last week.

Base prices for lambs are ranging from €6.80/kg up to €7.10/kg – which is back 10c/kg from this time last week.

But those trading at the higher end of the market are continuing to secure returns – similar to last week – of €7.20-7.30/kg, with prices above this level less frequent, while many lambs are moving at and above €7.00/kg still.