Ireland's annual sheep count to kick off again this month
Over 44,000 sheep and goat keepers registered on the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s database will receive their Annual Sheep and/or Goat Census 2016 forms in the coming week.
This year the Department has selected Saturday 31 December 2016 as the census date.
Completing and returning the census is a legal obligation for these farmers. The onus remains with the flock/herd keeper to make sure that completed census forms are received by the closing date of 31 January 2017.
The census provides valuable statistical information to the Department and other organisations involved in the development of the industry.
More importantly for farmers, submission of a completed Census is central in declaring that required stocking rates are being maintained and facilitates the drawing down of payments under schemes such as the Basic Payment Scheme, Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme, AEOS, GLAS etc. and also the new Sheep Welfare Scheme announced in the Budget.
Last year's Census returns indicated that Ireland had 3.76million sheep (3,760,425) in 35,254 flocks. This figure includes 2.5million breeding ewes over 12months of age. There was an average of107 sheep per flock compared to 104 sheep per flock in 2014.
With regard to the new Sheep Welfare Scheme, it should be noted that while the census figures submitted for December 2014 and December 2015 will be used as the historic reference, it will be a requirement of the scheme that flock keepers continue to submit their annual census in a timely manner.