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Successful Sheep2018: Farm to Fork Open Day in Athenry

Thousands of people attended the Sheep2018; Farm to Fork event in Teagasc on Saturday, 7 July. Officially opening the event, Andrew Doyle T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine said; “This is the highlight of the year for sheep farmers and all other stakeholders in the sector, in terms of being able to interact and acquire knowledge in all areas of sheep production which will help drive the future profitability of the sector.”

Successful Sheep2018: Farm to Fork Open Day in Athenry
Kathryn Roche, John Walsh, Irish Country Meats; Professor Gerry Boyle, Teagasc Director; Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle, T.D; Peter Keaveney, Leas Chathaoirleach, Galway Co Council; James Smyth, Irish Country Meats and Michael Diskin, Teagasc.

The Teagasc INZAC flock is demonstrating that high index Irish ewes are outperforming low index ewes, while the suitability of New Zealand ewes to an Irish system is also being examined.

Thousands of people attended the Sheep2018; Farm to Fork event in Teagasc on Saturday, 7 July. Officially opening the event, Andrew Doyle T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine said; “This is the highlight of the year for sheep farmers and all other stakeholders in the sector, in terms of being able to interact and acquire knowledge in all areas of sheep production which will help drive the future profitability of the sector.”

At the open day there was a strong emphasis on technology transfer relating to all aspects of sheep production from grassland, breeding, flock health, nutrition, hill sheep, Teagasc BETTER sheep farms, the environment, health and safety, meat industry and markets, education and wool, in addition to factual and informative stands on farm partnerships, inheritance and farm management.

Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle emphasised the importance of good grassland management on sheep farms to produce quality lamb. He also stressed the increasing role that genomics is playing in sheep breeding. 

The Teagasc INZAC flock is demonstrating that high index Irish ewes are outperforming low index ewes, while the suitability of New Zealand ewes to an Irish system is also being examined. Genetics, through the use of the Sheep Ireland €uro-Stars, in addition to physical attributes, can be a powerful tool in assisting farmers when purchasing rams which will best suit their production system. Genetic improvement is permanent as long as breeders follow a consistent breeding plan and consistently purchase high genetic merit rams.

The dedicated Food Village, which included food science, cooking demonstrations, artisan food, and food markets, was a hive of activity for all the families in attendance. Small food producers showcased the best of what is produced locally in the region, reinforcing the fact that Galway, justifiably, has been designated as the European Region of Gastronomy. Sheep 2018 was one of the flagship events in the 2018 European Region of Gastronomy Programme in Galway. The Teagasc food research team highlighted the science behind food production.

Sheep 2018: Farm to Fork, was organised by Teagasc, Galway County Council, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Sheep Ireland, Bord Bia, UCD, and Irish Farmers Journal. It was proudly supported by Irish Country Meats with additional sponsorship from: FBD Insurance, Germinal Seeds, Zoetis, MSD, Chanelle Group, Tuam Farm supplies/Cormac Tagging.

Sheep production is a significant contributor to the agricultural and national economy producing 67,000 tonnes of sheepmeat valued at more than €320 million annually. Over the past number of years, there has been a small but steady increase in sheep numbers, which currently stand at 2.6 million ewes in 36,313 flocks.

 

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