The recently published consultation document on the strategic plan of the common agricultural policy (CSP) includes an overview of a follow-up of the sheep social protection scheme under pillar II of the CAP 2023-2027.

The objective of the planned Sheep Improvement Program (SIS) is to build on the progress made under the Sheep Protection Program in the Rural Development Program (RDP) 2014-2020.

The program will continue to support actions that improve animal health and welfare in the sheep sector, says the CSP document.

Analysis shows that lameness in sheep is a significant animal welfare problem. The program will target this problem as well as parasite control, fly attacks and appropriate supplementation.

Participating farmers will choose to undertake two actions in total, one “Category A” and one “Category B” action, depending on whether they have a lowland or mountain herd.

Here is the list of potential options:

  • Lowland flock Category A – lameness control / mineral supplementation for ewes after mating / parasite control (fecal egg reduction test);
  • Plain herd Category B – Genotyped ram / scanner and recording of results / fly control;
  • Mountain herd Category A – Mineral supplementation for ewes after mating / feeding of lambs after weaning / parasite control (fecal egg reduction test);
  • Hill herd Category B – Genotyped ram / CT scan and recording of results / mineral supplementation of lambs before weaning.

These choices are subject to a number of restrictions. For example, mountain herdsmen cannot choose both pre-weaning mineral supplementation and post-weaning meal feeding for lambs.

All farmers should perform the genotyped ram action once during the duration of the program. Breeders with more than 150 breeding ewes must perform this action twice during the device. In all other years, an alternative option must be chosen and completed from category B.

In their requests for the first year, farmers must indicate in which years they will complete the genotyped ram action.

The CSP document specifies that all applicants must have a herd number; breeders of ewes on their farm for the duration of each year of the program; and declared breeding ewes in their 2022 sheep census.

The maximum number of ewes eligible for payment will be the average of the number of ewes during a specified historical reference period. Payment in any given year will be based on that maximum reference number or on the latest census counts of returned sheep, whichever is lower.

Applicants will be required to submit a completed Sheep Census Declaration by the date specified for each year of SIS participation. Participants must also be members of the Bord Bia Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS).

The calculations for this plan are based on the costs incurred less the net economic benefit associated with the shares. A transaction cost of 20% of the total cost per ewe is included in the calculations.