Teagasc plans to take a greater role in hill sheep farming and upland management.

Speaking at last week’s Teagasc hill sheep conference held in Glendalough, Co Wicklow, Teagasc director Frank O’Mara said the advisory body is progressing a more coordinated research approach for uplands areas.

O’Mara said this approach is proactively acting on stakeholder feedback received at the first upland farming and landscape management symposium held in Mayo in November 2023. “We focused on the interactions of uplands farming with carbon, with water, with biodiversity and livestock, and farming systems.

“Some of the issues that emerged from presentations and discussions were that we needed to have a more coordinated approach on research related to the uplands. We are progressing on this and are hoping to organise a workshop around the research needs for the uplands sometime later in 2024.”

There was also a call for greater inclusion of uplands management in education programmes, and O’Mara highlighted that this is currently being prepared within the Teagasc education programme in advance of the next academic year.

The Teagasc BETTER Farm Hill Sheep Programme currently has demonstration farms in Donegal, Galway, Sligo and Wicklow.

These farms are credited with demonstrating the benefits of adopting technologies, including improved flock health, ewe body condition score management, defined breeding plans and lamb performance recording.

Teagasc is now planning to recruit more farms in the west and southwest to extend its reach.