Teagasc has confirmed that it is fully committed to the sheep research programme in Athenry and will be maintaining its 1,200 head sheep flock.
This is despite the establishment of a new suckler demonstration farm on the same site.
This week, the IFA raised a number of issues with Teagasc over proposed changes made it very clear to the Director of Teagasc that the sheep research programme cannot be diluted in any way as a result of the changes in Athenry.
The IFA has said Teagasc has confirmed that it is fully committed to the sheep research programme in Athenry and has set out a number of commitments in this regard including:
- Teagasc will maintain a sheep research flock of 1,200 ewes plus 250 replacements, plus 90 rams, plus capacity for store lamb and meat quality studies on 128 ha;
- Despite the moratorium on recruitment, Teagasc have recruited two new sheep research personnel in the last three years and as a priority will appoint another person to a permanent research post;
- Teagasc have committed to maintain all existing sheep research projects and will commence a number of new sheep research projects in 2015 on breeding with Sheep Ireland on genotypes, a comparison of elite New Zealand and Irish Suffolk and Texel genotypes, sheep genomic selection and mineral nutrition in ewes and lambs;
- Additional external funding of €1.1m has been acquired to commence a four-year genomic selection programme with Sheep Ireland;
- The Teagasc Sheep BETTER farms will be expanded from 10 to 13 in 2015, with nine lowland farms and four hill/mountain sheep farms.
IFA National Sheep Committee Chairman John Lynskey said it is vital that Teagasc maintain a strong independent sheep research and advisory programme across the entire sheep sector.
He said good progress has been made on the Teagasc sheep programme in the last number of years and this momentum must continue.
He said it cannot be diluted or impacted in any way by the proposed changes in Athenry.