Sheep incomes under pressure as prices slump

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Lamb prices have fallen by 50p/kg over the past fortnight, according to National Sheep Association (NSA) Chairman for Northern Ireland John Blaney.

“This drop in market returns is making life extremely difficult for sheep farmers,” he said.

“The current weakness of the euro against sterling is accounting for part of this fall.

“But this is not the only factor coming into play. The problems associated with exporting sheep south at the present time must also be taken into consideration. And, in this regard, the stance taken to date by the Republic of Ireland’s Farm Minister Simon Coveney on the sheep meat labelling issue has been very disappointing.”

Blaney went on to point out that the current unseasonal weather is not helping the cause of local flockowners.

“Young lambs are finding it very difficult to cope with the continuing cold and wet conditions,” he said.

“Sheep producers enjoyed a tremendous start to this year’s lambing season with many reporting record crops of lambs. However, the very poor weather over the past two months has served to erode this position significantly with most farmers reporting higher than normal levels of lamb mortality within their flocks.”

John Blaney was speaking at the launch of this year’s Sheep NI event. It will take place in Ballymena Livestock Market on Monday July 6th.

“We have put in place a very comprehensive schedule for this year’s event,” he said.

“This includes 28 individual sheep breed exhibition stands, a tour of the CAFRE Hill Farm at Glenwherry; three sheep seminars, the ever popular young shepherd competition and the sheep dog sale, which will round off the day. We will also have 90 commercial trade stands in attendance on July 6th.

“This is the fourth Sheep NI event. It is serving to provide sheep farmers with a unique opportunity to learn about the latest thinking on sheep management and health related matters. New thinking must be continuously brought to bear within the sector. And Sheep NI provides a unique focal point for sheep farmers in this regard.”