Old TV ad is timely reminder to dog owners about sheep kills
An ad issued by the Department of Agriculture in 1984 reminds dog owners about dangers of letting their pet run free during lambing season.

A TV advertisement first aired almost 30 years ago warning dog owners about the dangers of letting their dog run free has been doing the rounds on social media.

The animated "Bonzo the dog" ad was issued by the Department of Agriculture and aired on RTE television in 1984.

The ad features a dog called "Bonzo" being let outside by his owners, joining a pack of other dogs and then attacking a flock of sheep.

The tag line of the ad is "Keep your dog under control. Running free he can be a killer."

The ad was first posted on Youtube in March 2013 and since then has gained almost 5,000 views.

As lambing season begins, there have already been incidents of dog attacks, including one on a farm in Laois where 14 hoggets were killed by two husky dogs.

Read more about the attack here.

Sheep Welfare Scheme absorbs effect of 2018 concentrate usage
The poor weather conditions in 2018 saw a dramatic rise in feed usage on Irish sheep farms but payments under the Sheep Welfare Scheme prevented a major income drop.

The gross margin for the average lowland flock in 2018 remained relatively unchanged at €693/ha, despite a jump of nearly 20% in the direct costs of production.

According to the Teagasc Annual Review and Outlook 2019, farm incomes were hit by 15% across the board in 2018.

Feed usage

The increase in direct costs for sheep farmers was driven primarily by an increased feed usage in response to poor weather conditions. Feed usage increased by 28% in addition to feed prices being 5% higher.

Receipt of Sheep Welfare Scheme (SWS) payments along with higher lamb prices, estimated to be up 6% on 2017 levels, boosted margins for sheep farmers.

In the absence of the SWS, gross margins in 2018 would have decreased by 13% instead of just 3% compared with 2017.

Despite gross margins remaining steady, increased overhead costs will see net margin decline to €182/ha.

Positive 2019

Forecasts for 2019 are largely positive for the sheep sector as a return to normal feed usage should lead to a reduced cost of production. This is despite a predicted increase in fertiliser prices of 16% on 2018 levels.

Gross margins are predicted to rise by 10% to €764/ha.

Lamb prices are predicted to remain unchanged, while the number slaughtered will be down slightly.

The increase in gross margin will carry through to net margin, which is expected to increase by 37% to €250/ha.

Read more

Farm incomes drop 15% - Teagasc

One in five sheep falling foul of the clean livestock policy
Figures collected by the Department of Agriculture for the 2018 sheep kill to date show 20% of sheep fell outside category A under the clean livestock policy.

Over 80% of sheep that have presented for slaughter to date this year were classified as category A under the clean livestock policy (CLP) and required no intervention before slaughtering, according to data from the Department of Agriculture.

There was a further 19% categorised as category B, or acceptable for slaughter with some factory intervention. This represents over half a million sheep in the national kill to date.

Just 0.41% of sheep presented for slaughtering fell into category C (unacceptable) and were unfit for slaughter without remedial action by the factory.

The CLP was introduced in late 2017 in order to comply with current EU and national food safety regulations.

Movements

In a statement to the Irish Farmers Journal, the Department said: “Sheep producers supplying animals for slaughter for human consumption are food producers and therefore have responsibilities for food safety.

“Dirty animals pose a significant risk factor in the contamination of carcases during the production process. Animals not deemed acceptable by the slaughtering plant may be sent home.”

The 0.41% of sheep falling into category C belonged to approximately 260 farmers. These 11,122 sheep were the ones at risk of being sent home.

According to the Department, there is a provision in place whereby factories are permitted to move sheep from lairage to another location “to enable them be cleaned sufficiently to allow them be slaughtered”.

Charges

A major bone of contention for farmers is the additional charges that have been attached by factories to the policy. In some cases, factories have a flat-rate charge, generally in the region of 20c to 25c, across all sheep presenting for slaughter, regardless of their category. In other factories, farmers are charged upwards of €1.50 per dirty lamb.

When it came to the pricing structure the Department said: “Any fees or charges collected by a food business operator [factory] are a commercial matter between the supplier (farmer) and the food processor.”

The data has also found no evidence of an increase in category C sheep linked to an increased use of fodder crops.

Read more

Spotlight on sheep Clean Livestock Policy

Farmer Writes: farmers need to be proactive on clean livestock policy

€15m in Sheep Welfare Scheme payments issued to farmers
Advanced payments under year two of the Sheep Welfare Scheme have begun to issue to sheep farmers.

A total of €15.1m in payments has been issued to some 18,600 farmers under the Sheep Welfare Scheme. Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has confirmed that the 85% advance payment has issued on time for year two of the scheme.

Balancing payments in the €25m scheme are expected to commence in the second quarter of 2019.

There over 20,000 farmers involved in the scheme and the Minister urged any farmers with outstanding queries to respond to the Department immediately in order to facilitate payment.

Year three of the scheme will be opening in the coming weeks and there will be an opportunity for new entrants to the sheep sector to join.

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Sheep Welfare Scheme payments to start this month