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Improving Technical Efficiency on Sheep Farms

Preparations for the major Teagasc technical sheep Open Day on 21st June are now well advanced. Teagasc Sheep Enterprise Leader, Michael Diskin said that modest improvements in a number of key technologies have very significant impacts on productivity and profitability on sheep farms. He urged all sheep producers to visit Teagasc Athenry on Wednesday, 21 June to see the latest developments and scientific advancements in breeding, grassland management, flock health and hill sheep. Information on tasks to be completed under the Sheep Welfare scheme will also be available.

In terms of the economics of sheep production, the preliminary data from the Teagasc 2016 National Farm Survey showed an average gross margin of €595 per hectare for lowland mid-season lambing flocks. Michael Diskin pointed out that the top one third of flocks generated a gross margin of €1,329 per hectare compared to €268 per hectare for the bottom one third of flocks. Professor Diskin said: “This indicates that there is significant scope to increase income by improving technical efficiency on many farms. Gross margin per hectare was almost five times higher on the top farms compared to the bottom farms.”

The improvement in lamb prices in recent years combined with reduced feed costs would all suggest that 2017 could be a good year for the sheep industry. Sheep production is a significant contributor to the agricultural and national economy with an output value of €240 million in 2016. This is an increase of 4% on 2015 with the volume of meat output having increased 3%. 

Michael Gottstein, Head of Sheep Knowledge Transfer in Teagasc said: “Technical performance in terms of ewe productivity, grassland management, stocking rate and flock health are all important drivers of profitability and must be the sustained focus of all sheep producers and particularly in times of uncertainty. This is the clear message from the upcoming Open Day in Athenry on 21 June.”

The event opens at 11am and runs until 5.00pm. The last groups led by Teagasc advisors will commence the circuit at 2pm. This is a KT approved event.