New guides focus on top ram traits

Sheep breeders looking to produce lambs that meet target specification now have access to two new manuals from AHDB.

The manuals, which are to be launched at the National Sheep Association (NSA) Sheep Event 2018, focus on buying recorded rams for maternal and terminal sires traits and replace AHDB’s previous ‘Buying a recorded ram for Better Returns’ manual.

The launch comes following a rise in farmers, both pedigree and commercial, using tools including Estimated Breed Values (EBVs) and taking traits such as growth rates and carcase conformation into consideration when buying rams. The resulting genetic improvement is estimated to be worth £10.7 million per annum to the British sheep sector.

Katie Thorley, AHDB senior knowledge transfer manager, said: “We’ve split our original manual into terminal sire and maternal sire traits to make it easier for farmers to focus their breeding plan on either finishing lambs or breeding replacements.

“It’s really important that farmers make these decisions based on more than whether the ram looks good. Just because a ram may be structurally sound doesn’t mean his lambs will have the ability to grow quickly. Tools like EBVs and indexes are freely available so we’re hoping these updated manuals will encourage more farmers to give them a try and, in doing so, generate better returns from their sheep enterprise.”

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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. Colin Ley - News reporter