Farms deliver big lift in sheep margins

Members of the NI Sheep Programme managed to deliver significant increases in gross margins per ewe over the last four years.

On lowland farms the average gross margin was up 113%, while the upland farmers delivered a 62% increase in margin per ewe.

The management changes on farm that helped to produce these results will be explored in detail at two conferences next week. The first event takes place on Tuesday 21 February at Greenmount Campus, Antrim with the content repeated on Thursday 23 February at the Mellon Country Inn, Omagh. Both events start at 7:30pm and are free to attend. Pre-registration is required at

The NI Sheep Programme is a joint initiative between Dunbia, CAFRE and the Irish Farmers Journal.

Meat-free sales down during veganuary

The volume of meat free products declined significantly in January (veganuary) 2023 compared to previous years, analysis published by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) shows.

More than 1m fewer households bought meat-free products in January 2023 compared to the same month last year. A total of just 13.7% of households bought a meat-free product in the first three weeks of the year, compared to 96.4% of households buying meat, fish or poultry.

Separate research by the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) suggests 7% of shoppers started out the year taking part in veganuary, but of these, seven out of 10 failed to make it past the two-week mark.

Authorities issue recall of Flukiver dose

A batch of Flukiver drench is being recalled from wholesalers by the UK’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate. The issue stems from the wrong lot number being printed on packages. The flukicide drench is manufactured by Elanco and the firm is contacting wholesalers to examine the product that is currently available in stores.

Lyle stands in Dale Farm board election

Julie-Ann Lyle is running for election to the board of Dale Farm. The former banker manages a dairy farm with her husband Colin at Ballyrickard near Larne.

If elected, Lyle will be the first female farmer director on the board of the dairy co-operative. She is standing for election in area one against Ahoghill farmer and current board director Harold Johnston.

Entries open for Balmoral Show

Entries for livestock and equine classes at the 2023 Balmoral Show are now open and close at 5pm on Wednesday 15 March.

This year’s event is scheduled to take place from Wednesday 10 May to Saturday 13 May at Balmoral Park near Lisburn.

All entries must be submitted online at

Caution with rumen fluke results

The detection of rumen fluke in a faecal egg count does not mean that a treatment is needed, according to an animal health expert.

Diana Williams from the University of Liverpool said that a positive egg count for rumen fluke indicates the presence of adult parasites in livestock.

She explained that it is only immature rumen fluke that cause disease in animals and this does not show up in a faecal egg count.

“Increasingly, laboratories will record the incidental presence of rumen fluke eggs in faecal samples, but this does not indicate a need to treat,” Williams said.

Detailed soil maps are inaccurate, study finds

Some commercially available technologies that aim to give detailed soil analysis results for variable nutrient application rates are not accurate, a new study has found.

Researchers at Bangor University examined soil mapping services utilising gamma-ray spectroscopy (GRS) and found the technology was “not sufficiently accurate” to predict soil pH, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium levels in grassland.

“Both GRS and visible-near infrared spectroscopy accurately predicted between-field soil organic matter variations in grassland soils but not within-field variation,” the researchers state.

The study, which has been published in the scientific journal Precision Agriculture, states that some companies in the UK are “providing inaccurate soil mapping services”.

“It is highly recommended that existing and future commercialised soil mapping technologies are certified for quality assurance,” the study reads.