Marketing sheep

The presence of agents buying sheep in higher numbers destined for live export in marts in recent days has inserted more life in to the trade. While the number of sheep being exported live is small relative to factory throughput, it is occurring amidst tight supplies and significantly increasing competition. Reports indicate exporters are likely to be active in the coming weeks in the run up to the Islamic religious festival of Eid al-Adha (16 to 20 June).

The latest spike in interest is for well-fleshed ram lambs, with continued demand also evident for top-quality continental ewes. Where lambs are being presented in mart sales, then mart managers advise batching ram lambs of a similar weight and type. Lambs must have a good cover of flesh and there is little point in trying to include a few lambs with a lower flesh cover in a larger batch as this could quell interest.

Likewise, the advice is to batch cull ewes on weight/type. The maximum carcase weight payment limit in factories ranges from 43kg to 45kg. This leaves heavy ewes topping out at €180 to €189 at a price of €4.20/kg. Higher-priced deals are being negotiated and it is worth exploring if the mart or the factory is the better outlet.


It is over a month since the first warnings of nematodirus were released. The threat is greatest in lambs aged six to 12 weeks of age and consuming significant quantities of grass. The tell-tale signs are lambs suffering from a green-coloured scour, with performance quickly dipping in lambs with a significant disease burden.

Issues can escalate quickly, with severe cases characterised by lambs losing condition fast and congregating around water troughs due to dehydration. It is worth noting that there is no product with a residual activity and recognising that lambs that have previously received treatment at a young age may need retreatment. The advice is to treat lambs with a white wormer to stem the rate of anthelmintic resistance developing to other important active ingredients.

Worming dogs

It is also important to ensure a worm control programme is in place for working and pet dogs on the farm. Veterinary advice includes treating adult dogs for worms every three months through adulthood.

The advice for pups is worming approximately every two weeks until they reach 12 weeks of age and then every three months through adulthood. This information should be documented and available for inspection in the case of Bord Bia Sustainable Beef and Lamb and Dairy Assurance Scheme audits.

There is also a number of important vaccines that should be administered to pups with booster treatments to adult dogs.

SWS deadline

The deadline for applications without penalty to the National Sheep Welfare Scheme (NSWS) was Tuesday 21 May 2024. There is a 25-calendar day period after 21 May, during which late applications and any necessary supporting documentation will be accepted. Applications submitted during this timeframe will be subject to payment deduction of 1% per working day.