The October date for completion of the necessary actions under the National Sheep Welfare Scheme is unworkable, Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association (ICSA) president Sean McNamara has said.

Setting a mid-October deadline is highly impractical for hill sheep farmers, as their livestock will still be out grazing on the mountains at that time, McNamara argued.

To fulfil the required actions, ewes would need to be brought down from the mountains, a task, he said, typically not undertaken until late October and into November.


“[The] ICSA fought extremely hard to secure this additional €8 and we want as many sheep farmers as possible to benefit from it.

"Early in 2023, we were protesting outside the Dáil fighting for the very economic survival of sheep farmers up and down the country.

"We made it very clear that the €12 farmers were receiving under the Sheep Improvement Scheme was totally inadequate. Our efforts resulted in securing the additional €8 and it is imperative that sheep farmers can avail of it.

"A mid-November deadline would be more pragmatic, allowing farmers the necessary time to bring in their sheep and carry out the required actions and we are calling on the Minister to make this adjustment," he said.


Under the scheme, farmers will be paid per eligible breeding ewe and payment for full scheme compliance will be €8 per ewe (€4 per ewe per action completed).

Farmers must complete two actions – one from the category A actions of shearing or body condition scoring ewes and one from the category B actions of clostridial vaccination of ewes or plunge dipping to control external parasite.

The deadline for farmers to apply is 2 May 2024.