Sheep Farmers Flocked to Athenry
Over 1,200 sheep farmers attended the Teagasc Sheep Open Day in Athenry yesterday, 6 June, to hear the latest research updates and the best advice on producing lamb profitably.
The Teagasc Athenry sheep demonstration farm has shown that high levels of lamb output are achievable from mainly grass based diets. Teagasc researcher Philip Creighton told farmers that stocking rates and prolificacy are the two key drivers to maximise lamb output.
Ciaran Lynch, Teagasc, outlined how real gains in productivity and profitability have been made on the commercial farms in the BETTER Farm Sheep programme. The lowland flocks in the programme achieved an average gross margin per hectare of €670 in 2012, up from €290 per hectare in 2009. On the hill flocks, the gross margin has increased from just under €20 per ewe, to over €33 per ewe in 2012.
Advice on securing adequate fodder stocks for next winter was also available to farmers attending the open day. Despite grass growth rates being 70% below normal on the Athenry farm in March and 50% bellow normal in April, some surplus paddocks have already been mowed and baled in good weather conditions, producing high quality silage for next winter.
Financial planning advice was also available at the open day to assist farmers ensure they have adequate cash flow to manage their businesses.
There are 32,580 sheep flocks in Ireland and the Teagasc National Farm Survey represents 12,580 of these sheep farmers who had an average family farm income of €16,898 in 2012. The average sheep farm was 49 hectares.
The Teagasc sheep open day was supported by the Kepak group and MSD Animal Health.