The sheepmeat sector in Ireland is a very important indigenous industry with wide-spread production throughout the country. The sector generates an output value of €320 million per annum which supports in excess of 34,000 sheep farmers, and a further 2,000 jobs in processing and related industry services. Over 2.9 million sheep were processed in 2017. The sector is strongly export oriented and 2016 exports, to over 30 markets, were valued in excess of €275 million. Ireland is the fourth largest net exporter of sheepmeat in the world and the second largest in Europe.
Sheepmeat production and processing has excellent environmental credentials and fits well with our national effort towards a sustainable Agri-Food sector. While there remains a small but important core of sheep-only enterprises, sheep farming works well with mixed grazing enterprises on both dairy and beef farms. Teagasc data shows that in terms of gross margin, sheep enterprises perform very well when compared to other farm enterprises.