The 2024 Teagasc lowland sheep conferences offer attendees an extensive programme, with topics ranging from ewe nutrition in late pregnancy, the process of transferring the family farm and diagnosing and managing flock health issues.

The two conferences take place in the same week, with the first held in the Athlone Springs Hotel, Co Roscommon (N37 F9T3), on Tuesday 23 January.

The second conference will be held in the Clanree Hotel, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, on Thursday 25 January, with both conferences starting at 7pm.

Flock nutrition

The nutrition presentation will be delivered by Teagasc researcher Dr Tim Keady.

This will discuss the important subject of properly managing ewe nutrition during pregnancy. This topic will focus on the benefits of satisfying nutritional requirements and the consequences of such for subsequent flock performance.

The last year has been challenging for flocks, with inclement weather, lower-quality forage and sub-optimum feed supplies putting additional pressure on ewes.

Tim’s presentation will discuss options available to farmers and provide tips in diet formulation.

Succession challenges

Succession is a major challenge facing Irish farm families. With an aging workforce, the sheep sector may face acute challenges in the next decade.

ifac specialist Martin Clarke will address a range of pertinent issues from tax concerns, structures, income security and opportunities available to farm families to plan ahead for a more streamlined transfer of the family farm.

Flock health

A key component of a high-performing system is flock health. It is central to maintaining high animal welfare standards, positive performance and ultimately a profitable enterprise.

Diagnosing the route of a problem or underlying health issues is often more complex than treating the ailment.

The flock health session takes a different format. Chaired by Darren Carty, Irish Farmers Journal, patrons will hear first-hand experience from farmers and Seamus Fagan, Department of Agriculture Regional Veterinary Laboratory, Athlone, about the steps involved in diagnosing and managing issues on farm.

John O’Connell, Leitrim, Patrick Dunne, Wicklow, and Brian Keane, Wexford, will all share their on-farm experiences of three different flock health issues encountered, including how they came to terms with the issue and implemented a plan to treat and prevent the issue from recurring.

The opening address at the sheep conference in Letterkenny will be delivered by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue TD, while the conference in Athlone will be opened by Teagasc director Professor Frank O'Mara.

Speaking in advance of the events, head of sheep knowledge transfer in Teagasc Michael Gottstein said: “We have put together an exciting programme for these conferences, which promises to be very informative and interesting for sheep farmers and all are welcome to attend.”

For more details on the sheep conferences, visit the Teagasc website.