The search is on for the country’s best rams as pedigree breeders are invited to put forward rams believed to have good lamb growth, carcase weight and conformation.
Now in its fifth year, RamCompare uses data from throughout the supply chain to inform genetic evaluations. During the three seasons, more than 6,600 ewes have been mated to over 138 leading rams through artificial insemination (AI) and natural mating. Over 200 rams will have been progeny tested by the end of next summer.
Results from the project will enable commercial farmers to select Signet recorded rams that produce progeny that are more likely to meet target market specifications. Pedigree breeders will be able to enhance the breeding of rams for commercially important traits, as well as using Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) to market rams in the coming year.
Bridget Lloyd, RamCompare Project Coordinator, said: “This is a great opportunity for breeders to contribute to an important industry project, which they can use to promote their rams. In 2019, new breeding values for primal yield and shear force will be released – bringing leading flocks into the spotlight.”
James Barker, Pedigree breeder, said: “Sheep producers must focus on matching the right genetics to their production system and this trial is a great way to see what the leading breeding lines can deliver. We sell rams directly from the farm and our involvement in RamCompare is a key part of our marketing strategy.”
Rams and semen must meet the following criteria to be nominated for RamCompare:
· EBVs in top 20 per cent of the breed
· Good history of performance records of the ram and its progeny (eg ultrasound scan, computed tomography (CT) data
· Shearling in autumn 2019 or older
· Good and known health status and be from a Maedi Visna-accredited flock
· Good genetic linkage to other flocks
· Provide genetic diversity to the rams that have already been used in the RamCompare project
· Part of a Signet-recorded flock
For breeders who want to nominate semen, there is a minimum requirement of 30 doses for use via artificial insemination (AI). For natural service sires, fit and fertile rams are required, with preference given to rams that are shearlings or older.
RamCompare is joint funded by AHDB, Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and Agrisearch. For AHDB RamCompare helps to achieve one of the organisation’s strategic priorities of driving greater on-farm uptake of superior genetics by increasing the use and understanding of EBVs.