New flocks are sought for second phase of RamCompare

Additional sheep farms are being sought to take part in the industry’s RamCompare project.

The next stage of the project will test more rams and represent a wider range of breeds, with the aim of mating more than 3,000 ewes to RamCompare sires in autumn 2017. The scheme, which aims to drive genetic improvement in the UK sheep industry through the inclusion of commercial data in genetic evaluation, will continue to run multi-breed trials on six farms, while establishing another five satellite farms focusing on one or two specific breeds. All farms will collect on-farm data from tupping to slaughter.

AHDB’s 2017-2020 strategy sets out priorities for the organisation over the next three years, one of which is driving greater on-farm uptake of superior genetics.

Bridget Lloyd, RamCompare Project Co-ordinator, said: “The extension to the project provides an opportunity for additional farms and breeds to be included. Abattoir data from lambs sired by a larger team of performance-recorded rams will be used as part of the genetic evaluations.

“As a result of the first phase of this project, new estimated breeding values (EBVs) are being developed, including days to slaughter, carcase fat class, carcase conformation and carcase weight. Phase two will enable us to build on this work.”

Phase two will run from tupping 2017 through to lamb sales in 2020. The project is looking to work with 11 flocks in total across the UK, which will include those involved in phase one.

Flocks will need to meet strict criteria, including:

Having between 250 and 320 ewes of the same breed that can be crossed with terminal sires
Using a combination of artificial insemination and single sire natural service groups
Being an experienced EID user with own equipment
Being willing to tag and fully record lambs at birth, plus record the 56 day, 90 day and sale weights
Being able to rear all trial lambs from a similar system
Being willing to supply trial lambs to processor partners in the project
Having an active health plan and known health status, clear of Maedi Visna (MV), Ovine Pulmonary Adenocarcinoma (OPA) and Johnes Disease

The RamCompare project will contribute towards the costs of additional labour, provide semen and appropriate drugs and relevant veterinary input. Rams will be provided free of charge and producers will be paid a ram maintenance allowance. Training on lamb selection and ewe body scoring will be given, if required.

For more information and to request a flock nomination form, please contact bridget.lloyd@ahdb.org.uk. More details can be found at signetfbc.co.uk/ramcompare. The closing date for flock nominations is 29 May 2017.

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