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The National Hill Sheep Conference

The Teagasc National Hill Sheep Conference will take place this coming Thursday, 15 February at 7pm in the Glendalough Hotel, Brockagh, Glendalough, County Wicklow.

"The hill ewe has significant untapped potential both in the hill environment and as the dam of prolific cross bred ewes for the lowlands."

The Irish Hill Sheep sector plays an important role in the economic health of rural economies and the maintenance of the natural landscape in many of Ireland’s most scenic areas. The conference will focus on flock health, hill sheep breeding, biodiversity, and lessons from the Sustainable Uplands Agri- Environment Scheme (SUAS) EIP project.

Professor Frank O’Mara, Teagasc Director, will officially open the Hill Sheep Conference in Glendalough, which will be chaired by Ger Shortle, Teagasc Regional Advisory Manager. He said; “The hill ewe has significant untapped potential both in the hill environment and as the dam of prolific cross bred ewes for the lowlands. All sheep producers are welcome to the Glendalough Hotel for 7pm on Thursday, 15 February.”

Declan Byrne from Teagasc will outline the outcomes from the Sustainable Uplands Agri- Environment Scheme (SUAS) project. Declan will describe the blueprint that was used to identify the needs and requirements of the different upland areas and the different management approaches that were required.   

Liver fluke is a health challenges frequently faced by hill sheep flocks. Dr Philip Skuce from the Moredun Institute in the UK will present on sustainable control of liver fluke in sheep. In his talk, Philip will explain the fluke life-cycle and how to risk assess a field/farm for potential liver fluke infection. He will outline what diagnostic tests are available, the challenge of flukicide resistance as well as ongoing research in this area. Philip will also discuss the challenge of rumen fluke and its control measures.

Meanwhile David Coen from Sheep Ireland will cover the latest breeding technologies in a paper titled ‘Irish hill sheep breeding – a new era beckons’. He will talk about the genetic progress made in the hill sector in 2023. The number of hill rams genotyped to date and what this means for the sector. He will also cover why a sire verified ram would bring great benefit to commercial hill farmers.

Nicola Warden, Senior Biodiversity Technologist from the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) in Northern Ireland, will give a presentation titled; “The CAFRE Journey to better biodiversity on the Hill Farm”. In her presentation, Nicola will outline the work being done at Glenwherry and the performance and role that livestock, both cattle and sheep, play in maintaining the landscape and improving biodiversity.

The closing comments at the conference will be given by Ciaran Lynch, Teagasc Sheep Specialist. The hill sheep conference is free to attend with refreshments served after the event. There will be an opportunity to meet with the presenters and discuss the presentations. Find out more here