AgriLand’s Richard Halleron addressed a meeting for sheep farmers, held recently in Tralee. Courtesy of his presentation he discussed the possible impact of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) measures on the sheep sector.

Significantly, Halleron confirmed that sheep farmers should be the big winners, once the new support measures come into effect next year.

He added: “This is on the basis of Ireland being treated as one region for the purposes of the new CAP measures. If attempts are made to push a two tier CAP agreement, then sheep farmers could lose out relative to their beef counterparts.”

Halleron also confirmed that, under the new CAP measures, only active farmers will be eligible to draw down entitlements post 2015. Enhanced support will be made available to young farmers and small producers. He went on to highlight the feasibility of Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney introducing a coupled payment on breeding ewes. This would mirror the decision already taken to introduce such payments on suckler cows.

The event also provided Caltech nutritionist and technical director Dr Cliff Lister with an opportunity to discuss the latest research findings on how best to manage breeding ewes in those all-important weeks up to lambing. Courtesy of his presentation he detailed the best ways of minimising lamb mortality rates at birth and how to ensure that newborn lambs can secure maximum daily growth rates.

Over the past number of years, Caltech has sponsored a number of pre-lambing feeding trials, which were carried out by staff at Newcastle University. The work was undertaken to highlight the nutritional impact of the Crystalyx Extra High Energy Sheep buckets.

“It must be pointed out from the outset that Crystalyx is a feed bucket and not just a source of minerals,” he stressed.

“The buckets contain high levels of energy, which will allow sheep utilise forages more effectively. The trial work carried out at Newcastle confirms that ewes carrying single lambs will lamb down in excellent condition when offered a diet of good quality forage plus access to the Extra High Energy buckets at the recommended feeding level.”

Dr Lister continued: “The weeks up to lambing constitute the period when foetal growth rates are increasing significantly. For those ewes carrying twins and triplets there will be a requirement to provide supplementary feeds, in conjunction with the Crystalyx Extra High Energy buckets, in the run up to lambing.”

Dr Lister also pointed out that the feed buckets are, perhaps, the most effective and convenient way of ensuring that ewes receive all of the energy they require, when maintained outdoors.

Seamus O’Donoghue, Killarney, with David Morgan, Caltech Crystallyx, at the Tralee sheep meeting