Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D, announced on the 20th of November the commencement of payments to farmers who are eligible under the Sheep Improvement Scheme (SIS).
Advance payments worth a total of €19 million will be issued to 17,000 farmers under the scheme. These advanced payments will amount to 85% of the overall payment, with the remaining 15% due to commence in May 2024.
The Sheep Improvement Scheme follows on from the Sheep Welfare Scheme and was introduced to enhance animal health and welfare in the Irish flock. The scheme is designed to provide financial support to farmers willing to take extra measures to improve the welfare of their flock. Eligible farmers will get €12 per breeding ewe for completing flock welfare measures. Under the rules of the scheme, farmers must undertake two welfare measures to qualify.
The targeted welfare measures are:
• lameness control
• mineral supplementation of ewes post mating
• meal feeding lambs post weaning
• parasite control (faecal egg count)
• management of pregnant ewes (scanning)
• flystrike control
• mineral supplementation of lambs pre-weaning
• Genotyped Ram Action
It is necessary to complete the Genotyped Ram action at least once within the first three years of scheme participation. If farmers have a reference number of breeding ewes of 150 breeding ewes or less, they will need to complete the Genotyped Ram action once. If farmers have a reference number greater than 150, they will have to complete the Genotyped Ram action twice over the lifetime of the scheme, once within the first three years of the scheme and once in any subsequent scheme year.
To qualify for the scheme, farmers must:
• submit a Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) application for each year of scheme participation
• submit a sheep census return for each year during the lifetime of the scheme – an exception is made for new entrants in year of entry
• have an active herd number – or be a new entrant – and keep breeding ewes
• maintain the required number of breeding ewes during the scheme
Further information on the Sheep Improvement Scheme can be found here.