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Thousands of farmers flock to Sheep 2012 in Athenry

Thousands of farmers from all over the country are attending Sheep 2012, the major national open day for the sheep industry, taking place in Teagasc Athenry, Co Galway, today, Saturday, 30 June 2012.

Sheep 2012 was officially opened by Shane McEntee TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Speaking at the event he said” The outlook for the sheep sector is positive. Food Harvest 2020 sets a target of 20% increase in output value for the sheep sector and envisages that over the coming years, demand for sheepmeat on the European market will outstrip production levels which should provide opportunities for exporting countries such as Ireland. This should provide the potential for better returns, provided the industry can continue the market and product diversification which has been evident in recent years”.

Speaking at the Sheep 2012 Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle said; “Sheep production is a significant contributor to the agricultural and national economy with an output valued at €180 million in 2011. Teagasc are committing significant resources to its sheep research and knowledge transfer programme. Farmers have the opportunity to see the new research demonstration farm and the new Grassland programme with the Department here in Athenry today. Our sheep advisers, specialists and researchers are available at the many workshops, seminars, demonstrations and stands here at Sheep 2012 to meet and talk to.”

The newly established Teagasc Sheep Research Demonstration farm is quantifying the optimum stocking rates for breeds with different levels of prolificacy. The Teagasc Sheep BETTER farms programme has been extended. The first 3 years of results from the programme are very impressive, in terms of flock output, increased lamb production from grazed grass and profitability. About 60% of the improvement in gross margin in both the lowland and hill flocks has come from improvements in productively. Teagasc has dedicated sheep advisers in each of its advisory regions supported by sheep specialists.

New sheep housing and experimental facilities have been built in Athenry and the nutrition, parasitology, and meat quality studies that will be conducted in these new facilities will further underpin the Sheep Industry in Ireland.

Sheep 2012 was hosted by Teagasc and organised jointly with UCD, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Bord Bia, Sheep Ireland and the Irish Farmers Journal. The main sponsors of the event are Kepak and Supervalu with additional support for the event from FBD Trust, Merck Sharpe & Dohme, and Pfizer Ireland.