With lamb prices currently running in the region of €1/kg ahead of the corresponding period in 2020 and cull ewes continuing to attract record prices, there is much more life and optimism in the sheep sector.

Farmers specialising in producing female replacements and rams are looking forward to breeding sales with confidence.

There is also more interest being taken at farm level in improving production efficiency. This is apparent in reports of stronger sales in sheep handling equipment, fencing, etc, and is also reflected in increased sales of health products. This is not surprising, given that every animal saved or improvements in performance will influence the farm’s bottom line to a greater degree.

The level of preparation put in to breeding will have a massive impact on its success. Having animals in optimum body condition score, ensuring there is sufficient grass available pre-, during and post-breeding and implementing a solid health programme that covers all the important bases will deliver handsomely and exploit the potential in your flock.

When it comes to the latter, the genetics in any flock should be closely aligned to your farm’s goals.

Here we detail the latest developments in the Sheep Ireland breed improvement programme and advice on how to enhance your flock. Reports suggest replacement hoggets could be significantly more expensive this year and as such, there are some farmers looking at the option of breeding ewe lambs. As outlined here, this can enhance lifetime performance, but only where the necessary management and facilities are in place to suit this system.