The Teagasc Sheep Conference will take place virtually this year on two evenings next week – Tuesday, January 25 and Thursday, January 27.

Farmers can tune into a webinar between 8:00p.m and 9:00p.m on both evenings, when research from the Teagasc national sheep programme will be discussed.

Teagasc director Prof. Frank O’Mara will open the conference on Tuesday and address the challenges and opportunities facing the sheep sector, and outlining the work programmes underway by Teagasc.

One of the key areas that will be addressed is the target to reduce emissions from agriculture, Teagasc says.

Michael Gottstein, head of the Sheep Knowledge Transfer Department in Teagasc, said that the first session – chaired by Dr. Fiona McGovern on Tuesday – will focus on reducing input costs while maximising productivity.

“There is significant upward pressure on both fertiliser and feed costs this year on sheep farms, so it’s important farmers plan and have strategies for reducing input costs while maximising productivity,” Gottstein said.

Following “exceptionally strong” sheep prices on many international markets in 2021, Seamus McMenamin from Bord Bia will provide an update on the global sheep meat outlook for 2022, and give some insights into how the market will develop.

The second session of the conference will take place two days later and will be chaired by the recently-appointed Teagasc sheep enterprise leader, Dr. Phillip Creighton.

This session will focus on reducing lamb mortality and on the new veterinary medicine regulations for 2022.

Speaking in advance of his webinar, Dr. Creighton said: “While lambing in early flocks is well underway or nearing completion, planning and preparations for mid-season lambing flocks should now be beginning.

“It’s important to be well prepared in advance as it can greatly reduce problems during lambing season and improve the overall performance of the flock,” he added.

Also during this session, Dwayne Sheils, a Teagasc Walsh Scholar, will outline the main causes of lamb mortality and will highlight the opportunities to reduce lamb mortality and solutions which have emerged from studies.

As well as that, Caroline Garvan from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will speak in detail about the new veterinary medicine regulations for 2022 and what implications are for sheep farmers.

Registration for the conference in available through the Teagasc website.