Pedigree breeders have the opportunity to receive valuable information on their sires’ progeny by nominating rams and semen for use in the RamCompare project.
Animals which are involved in the project now have new estimated breeding values (EBVs) available covering carcase weight, fat and conformation. These EBVs can be used when marketing these rams.
In taking part, breeders will receive feedback on the performance of their rams for commercially relevant traits. RamCompare is the UK’s first commercial progeny test, using data from throughout the supply chain to inform genetic evaluations. It aims to enable the UK sheep industry to drive genetic improvement forward through the inclusion of commercial data in genetic evaluations.
Bridget Lloyd, RamCompare Project Coordinator, said: “This is a great opportunity for breeders to contribute to an important industry project while receiving useful information on their stock, which they can use to promote their rams.”
Alwyn Philips, pedigree breeder, said: “RamCompare provides a great way for flocks to benchmark performance in an unbiased, commercial environment. It also provides an alternative shop window to show customers what genetics really can do.”
For breeders who want to nominate semen, there is a minimum requirement of 30 doses for use via artificial insemination (AI). With the introduction of a unit at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in Northern Ireland, the project team is also looking for Suffolk or Texel semen eligible for export. For semen with EU export status, 40 doses per ram is required.
For natural service sires, fit and fertile rams are required, with preference given to rams that are shearlings or older.
RamCompare is seeking rams and semen that meet the following criteria:
- 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 2018 or older
- Good and known health status and be from a Maedi Visna-accredited flock
- Come from a flock with 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
Nominations are now open and close on 5 March 2018. More information on requirements, including the nomination forms, can be found at www.ramcompare.co.uk. Alternatively, contact Bridget.Lloyd@ahdb.org.uk.
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 preliminary results of the project are also available on the project website.