According to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, Ireland imported 367,936 sheep in 2021.
He supplied the data to deputy Jackie Cahill, who asked the minister to provide a breakdown of lambs imported into Ireland by country of origin.
In response, the minister confirmed that the DAFM utilises the TRACES system to record sheep movements in terms of both imports and exports for the purposes of slaughter, breeding and fattening.
He said: “Traditionally, most live sheep imported into Ireland have come from the UK, including Northern Ireland. In 2021, a total of 367,936 sheep were imported.”
“My department does not collect or collate live sheep imports on a weekly basis,” he added.
He produced the following table, showing both the country of origin – covering Northern Ireland, France, Belgium and Holland – and the quantity of sheep Ireland imported each month in 2021.
Earlier this month, McConalogue said that he is comitted to working to ensure that sheep-worrying by dogs “becomes a thing of the past”.
The latest figures local authorities compiled show that there were 240 incidences of livestock worrying in 2020.
Dog attacks cause serious injury or death to sheep and can cause serious distress and financial loss for farm families.
Minister McConalogue added that sheep worrying causes “immense and unnecessary” stress for farmers and “serious” animal welfare issues for sheep and newborn lambs.
He said that controlled pets can decimate a flock within minutes. Furthermore, reports suggest dog attacks result in the death of/serious injury of some 4,000 sheep every year.
‘‘Dog owners must take responsibility for their pets, which must be under control at all times. The gentlest family pet can kill or maim sheep and lambs. Never let your dog out unsupervised, especially at night.”