RamCompare, the UK’s first national progeny test, is going from strength to strength having recruited four new farms, a research institute and 60 rams to take part in the second phase of the project.
RamCompare aims to drive genetic improvement forward by using data from along the supply chain to produce commercially focused estimated breeding values (EBVs). AHDB, Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AgriSearch are continuing to fund the work, with support from Sainsbury’s.
Phase two, which begins this month, will span three breeding seasons. Four new farms and the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) join a further four farms from the first phase of the project, offering a greater range of ewe breeds and locations.
Samuel Boon, AHDB Animal Breeding senior manager, said: “The new farms and rams recruited for phase two mean we can test a wider range of breeds, which will help us drive genetic improvement further.
“As with phase one, data will be collected from tupping through to slaughter, which means all aspects of the supply chain will be incorporated into the breeding evaluations, helping commercial breeders pick the right rams to produce more lambs that hit target specification.”
Sixty new rams are being used this tupping season, 33 by natural service and 27 via artificial insemination (AI). One of the existing AI sires, Kimbolton Voyager, is being used across all flocks as a reference AI sire.
In addition to the five breeds of rams used in phase one (Texel, Suffolk, Charollais, Meatlinc and Hampshire Down), the project has expanded to include Beltex, Blue Texel, Blue de Maine and Polled Dorset.
For AHDB, the RamCompare farms are part the wider AHDB Farm Excellence Platform, which inspires industry to improve performance and succeed through farmer-to-farmer knowledge exchange.
The results of the 70 rams tested during phase one will be released at the Sheep Breeders Round Table, being held near Nottingham, on the 17 November 2017. More information is available at www.nationalsheep.org.uk/SBRT. The results will also be made available at www.ramcompare.com on the 17 November.