Poll reveals almost two-thirds of farmers aim to expand flock
Almost two-thirds of sheep farmers aim to expand numbers over the next five years, an ICSA survey has revealed.
The poll of 250 flock owners was undertaken at last Saturday's Sheep 2012 event at Teagasc, Athenry, Co Galway.
It found that 30pc of respondents planned to hold numbers, while 39pc said they would "expand slightly" and 24pc said they aimed to grow numbers "substantially".
Just 5pc said they planned to reduce their flock. Four per cent of those surveyed said they would reduce numbers "slightly", 1pc said they would reduce numbers "substantially" or get out of sheep altogether, and 2pc claimed they did not know what their future plans were.
The sentiments expressed in the survey reflect the positive outlook in the sector. Bord Bia sheep marketing specialist Declan Fennell told a seminar at Athenry that a predicted 3.5pc growth in sheep numbers this year would take the national flock to 4.8m head.
Paul Brady, ICSA sheep chairman, said the results proved that strong prices were the best guarantee of a sustainable sheep sector.
"Processors, retailers and policy makers must face up to the reality that a good price is all that is required. Keep the price strong and the supply will take care of itself," Mr Brady said.
Mr Brady did sound a note of caution, however, saying that he would not like to see processors and retailers take advantage of any expansion in numbers.