Hoggets that were not put to the ram as ewe lambs are ineligible for the COVID-19 support scheme for wool.

Guidance published by DAERA last week confirms that payments will only be issued for “breeding ewes and ewe lambs/shearings put to the ram” as recorded in the 2019 sheep inventory.

A payment rate of £1.40/head is available and applications for the scheme are due to close on 12 August 2021.

However, farmers who buy ewe lambs each autumn, then sell them the following year as dry hoggets, have expressed disappointment at being excluded from the scheme.

“My hoggets still had to be clipped and their wool made the same money as someone who had hoggets rearing lambs,” said one local farmer.

In the sheep inventory, ewe lambs that are put to the ram are recorded separately, whereas ewe lambs that are not bred are recorded along with wether and ram lambs under “other lambs less than one year old”.

Allowing a wool payment for these sheep would potentially have opened the scheme up to store lambs that were alive in early December 2019 but were later slaughtered and never actually clipped.