Research Demonstration Farm
Sheep meat production is an important indigenous industry in Ireland and is a significant enterprise on over 30,000 farms. Irish sheep meat is seen as a product with a healthy image, natural and environmentally friendly. Sheep meat in the EU is in deficit and it is currently less than 80% self sufficient. The Malone Report on the sheep industry identified the role that research needs to play in the development of the sheep industry. Teagasc plays a key role in developing competitive, profitable and sustainable systems of sheep production. These systems must maximize the use of grazed grass/clover so as to capitalize on Ireland’s natural competitive advantage in grass production.
The main challenge for grass based systems of sheep production is to improve the utilization of pasture and increase the output of animal products from this resource. Grass makes up 90-95% of the energy requirements of sheep therefore any improvement in the efficiency of production and utilisation greatly increases profitability. This can be achieved by Developing optimum grassland management strategies. Extending the grazing season and the use of improved varieties of grass and clover with better winter growth characteristics also have major roles to play.