Sheep Welfare Scheme
The 'Sheep Welfare Scheme' was introduced to contribute to animal and health welfare and also provided a much needed boost on the income side for farmers. Eamon Patten, Teagasc Drystock Advisor, discusses the scheme and requirements for inspections and record keeping.
The good news is that it is likely to continue, maybe in a renamed or amended format. The bad news, as with any scheme is the requirements for inspections and record keeping. It’s a good time to do some checks, to see what’s done, what needs to be completed and to have records for such.
Remember that the idea behind the scheme was to go beyond standard practise. All other requirements such as correct tagging, dispatch dockets, flock register and census have to be completed and correct. Anyone in this scheme had to opt to complete two tasks, one from category A and one from B in the table below and these cannot be changed or swapped.
|Lowland Flock||Hill Flock|
|Category A||Category A|
|Lameness Control||Mineral Supplementation Ewes post mating|
|Mineral Supplementation Ewes post mating||Meal feeding lambs post weaning*|
|Category B||Category B|
|Parasite Control (Faecal Egg Count)||Parasite Control (Faecal Egg Count)|
|Flystrike control||Mineral Supplementation Lambs Pre weaning*|
Every task has specific conditions and a time frame to be followed to avoid penalties. Know your own tasks and the requirements for these. Look at the scheme terms and conditions for details on each task and then ensure your record book is completed correctly for your chosen tasks.
Be aware that the scheme year generally runs from early February to the following February. So be mindful of this for some tasks such as scanning which must be completed within this period. It could happen that scanning could occur twice in the one scheme year and not at all in another even though you would be completing the task annually. Following scanning ewes will need to be divided on the basis of predicted litter size and fed accordingly. It would be advisable to also take body condition and expected lambing date into account. A receipt from the scanner with the number of ewes scanned must be retained in the records. Details of the scanning results will need to be recorded in the record book, along with details of the supplementation regime.
Looking at another example - a very popular task is the use of minerals especially ewes post mating. Supplementation can be by various methods such as blocks, buckets, bolus or drench but the important points are that the product used must be approved for purpose and that it will cover the time frame specified i.e. 60 days post mating and that there is adequate dosage or consumption. For example a mineral bucket will specify recommended daily intakes so you need to do some maths to work out the number of buckets required for the number of ewes over the 60 day period.
Flystrike control is another task often chosen. Sheep should be assessed on a scale of 0-5 for the presence of dags. Ensure that you record dagging assessments at least once between June 1st and September 30th. Any chemical treatment must comply with animal remedies requirement and withdrawal period.
The payment (€10/ewe) is based on the breeding ewe reference number and on the annual census return whichever is the lower. It’s worth noting that if the ewe numbers are reduced during the year below the lower of either of these figures the Dept. Sheep Welfare Scheme Section should be notified as you may be deemed to be over claiming by not maintaining the reference number for the full year.
The record book is a good guide for the requirements of the scheme, so look through it and complete the details of your completed tasks. The overall scheme requirements are not a big burden on sheep farmers but to comply you need to prove that tasks are completed with the paperwork completed correctly.