Sheep Welfare Scheme opens for new applicants
Year three of the scheme will commence on 2 February with all existing participants automatically enrolled.

Year three of the Sheep Welfare Scheme (SWS) will commence on 2 February with applications from new entrants to sheep farming accepted until Friday, 1 February.

Existing participants in the scheme will be automatically enrolled in year three and will not need to take any action should they wish to remain in the scheme.

The scheme defines a new entrant to sheep farming as an applicant who has applied for a new flock number from 1 January 2018 and prior to 31 December 2018.

An applicant with an existing flock number who has not held or traded sheep for a two-year period up to 31 October preceding the scheme year will also be considered a new entrant.

Positive contribution

Commenting on the reopening of the scheme, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed stated: “The Sheep Welfare Scheme provides support to farmers for undertaking actions which make a positive contribution to flock welfare.”

He said that information packs containing the 2019 terms and conditions along with the action record book will be shortly issued to existing participants.

Application forms can be obtained by contacting the SWS section of the Department by email at sheepscheme@agriculture.gov.ie or via the Direct Payments Helpdesk at 076 1064420.

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Fashion retailer reverses its ban on wool products following public backlash
Following strong criticism of a decision to stop selling wool products, Boohoo will now continue to use it "as a sustainable material".

Online fashion retailer Boohoo.com made a rapid U-turn on its decision to stop selling wool products following major public backlash. Boohoo previously stated it would "not knowingly source wool products" by autumn of this year but it has now rowed back on that commitment.

In a statement, it said: “Boohoo continues to assess all options as part of its ongoing commitment to a more sustainable future.

“We are committed to ensuring the wool used in our supply chain comes from good husbandry and meets high levels of animal welfare, and will continue to use wool as a sustainable material.”

Welfare

When originally announcing the ban, the Manchester-based company cited concerns about sheep welfare at shearing time raised by a Peta video.

In a joint statement, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and British Wool said: “Farmers and contractors in the sheep industry take animal welfare very seriously and any behaviour that is found to fall below that standard is not tolerated.”

Boohoo said it was engaging with Peta and the relevant parties “to discuss options that will balance our customer demand, animal welfare and sustainable future”.

Sheep farmer hit by two dog attacks in one night
A sheep farmer from Co Leitrim had two groups of sheep and lambs attacked by dogs on Thursday night and he called on owners to be more vigilant.

A Leitrim sheep farmer pleaded with dog owners to be more vigilant after 30 of his sheep were targeted by dogs on Thursday.

Speaking on Shannonside radio, Paddy Farrell, who farms at Kiltoghert near Carrick-on-Shannon, said at least one dog was responsible for worrying two groups of his sheep.

“Last night [Thursday] around 9.30pm my wife was coming home from the shop and she raised the alarm.

Frightened

“I rushed to the scene to find sheep huddled in ditches some of them bleeding severely and young lambs about a week old badly frightened and roaring for their mothers.”

Paddy said he managed to hunt the dog or dogs away but shortly after that sheep at another location half a mile away were attacked. He said at least two sheep had been injured in the attacks.

Had he not managed to chase the dogs away the damage caused could have been much greater and he urged owners to know where their pets were at all times.

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Addressing hill sheep marketing opportunities and challenges
A discussion at next week’s hill sheep conference will look at how the sector can realise marketing opportunities and add value to the sector.

The marketing of hill sheep will be under the spotlight at next week’s Teagasc hill sheep conference.

The KT-approved sheep event, which takes place in the Glendalough Hotel, Co Wicklow, on Tuesday 19 February starting at 6pm, includes a panel section focusing on how the hill sheep sector can be better linked with the market.

Important role for marts

Manager of Kenmare Mart Dan McCarthy will give an overview of the importance of the hill sheep sector in Kerry and outline the important role marts can play in providing an outlet for hill lambs.

There are also opportunities to continue to develop strong links between hill and lowland farmers

There are challenges facing the mart’s customer base, with an ageing profile of farmers and stricter regulations two issues raised, but there are also opportunities to continue to develop strong links between hill and lowland farmers.

Good environmental practice

Connemara-based farmer Brendan Joyce runs a hill farm near Maam Cross with his family.

He says one of the greatest challenges to farmers is alignment of policy between what the National Parks & Wildlife Service sees as good environmental practice and what the Department of Agriculture sees as good agricultural practice.

Brendan says that with buy-in from stakeholders, these challenges can be turned into opportunities to ensure a positive future for hill farming.

Atlantic Hill Brand

The introduction of the Atlantic Hill Lamb brand following a link-up between the INHFA and Kepak, along with support from Bord Bia, is an area where Brendan sees scope to build on the 16,000 lambs marketed to date.

James Smyth of Irish Country Meats sees an important role for hill lamb in helping to address the seasonal nature of lamb production in Ireland.

James will develop this topic and outline how hill lambs can be an integral part of Irish sheepmeat output.