Challenge Sheep farms confirmed to track lifetime performance

AHDB Beef & Lamb has recruited 13 farms to take part in a project to track and evaluate the consequences of the rearing phase on the lifetime performance of ewes.

Over a seven-year period, the Challenge Sheep project will track over 9,000 replacements to understand how flock performance can be improved using EID data to make decisions about ewe management. Information such as weights, body condition score, lambing data and lamb performance will be continually monitored over the lifetime of the project.

Farms taking part in the project use a variety of systems and are located as far north as Northumberland and as far south as Devon.

Sam Jones, Challenge Sheep farmer from Worcestershire, said: “I wanted to get involved with Challenge Sheep to make sure I’m getting the best out of the data that I have access to. Following the sheep from start to finish will be interesting and it will be good to find out simple ways to interpret the information that we get from EID.

“With Brexit around the corner I’m hoping the project will help me to keep an eye on how my flock is performing and ensure I’m doing everything I can to futureproof my farm.”

Challenge Sheep farms will host regular events which will give farmers the opportunity to share their findings with other producers in the industry. Introductory meetings will be held on farms in October and November.

AHDB Challenge Sheep Project Manager, Hayley King, said: “Feedback from both research and producers shows there are improvements to be made in the management of replacements entering the national flock. Currently up to 10 per cent are not retained after their first breeding season due to premature culling or death.

“The data generated by the project will help us to develop new guidance to help manage ewe replacements in the future. As part of this, each of the farms will have access to cutting-edge information and ways of interrogating data to get the most out of the EID data.”

Challenge Sheep is part of AHDB’s wider Farm Excellence Platform, which inspires industry to improve performance and succeed through farmer-to-farmer knowledge exchange.

To keep up to date with the latest events and to find out more about the project visit

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.