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Farm Event - Breeding for better carcases and the genomic opportunity

Friday, 24 May 2024, 11:00am - 3:30pm, Sandlands Farm, Frisby on the Wreake, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, LE14 2NS

At this event, we will introduce the value of genomics (the study of genes) and explain how important it is for future ram breeding decisions. We will help you to understand how to use performance traits to benefit your pedigree flock or your commercial lamb enterprise.

New Signet publications for terminal sires

Signet has recently updated the range of publications for terminal sire breeders, find electronic copies of the booklet in this article. 

A Genomic outlook for sheep genetic evaluations

Genomic information enables predictions of genetic merit to be made using measures of an animal’s DNA, rather than being solely reliant on data derived from measurements taken on them and their relatives. Genomic approaches do not replace our current genetic analyses but build on them – introducing an additional genomic step that greatly increases the accuracy of our predictions.

Adjusting the scale of the Hill Sheep Index

To support ram breeders in 2024 the index will be rescaled to better reflect the variation within the population, whilst operating from a higher initial starting point. The ranking of rams will not change, but the average index within each breed will be closer to £10 than the current starting point of £1.

Updates to Birth Weight and Lambing Ease EBVs

Signet has recently updated their genetic evaluation to enhance the breeding values for two traits that influence the level of intervention required at lambing time.

Producing lambs that survive and thrive

Many factors effect lamb survival, some are influenced by the environment the lamb is born into, some are influenced by the ewe’s maternal performance (whether she has enough milk and leads the lamb to shelter in wet weather). However, the lamb’s own genes also have a marked impact on their future and part of the genetic evaluation service provided by Signet to breeders, we can identify the best breeding lines for lamb survival; highlighting those sires whose lambs thrive and survive.

Are big cows better?

How big is your ideal cow? In the show ring, big cows tend to do well. Their size makes them impressive to look at compared to smaller females and for those chasing higher growth rates, a herd of large cows will, on average, produce calves with heavier weaning weights.

However the overall profitability of your farm is not just your income. Especially in the current climate of high costs of fertiliser, labour and feed, reducing input costs is a great way to increase your profit. Smaller cows need less feed and so can greatly reduce your input costs

Recording Birth Weights and Lambing Ease

With lambing round the corner for many terminal sire breeders, now is an important time to highlight the importance of recording both Birth Weights and Lambing Ease.

Weighing is not limited to youngstock, weigh all your cattle this autumn.

As we enter the autumn, and the weather is starting to turn and many of you will be thinking about preparing for the winter and getting jobs ticked off. Hopefully one near the top of the list is collecting weights of youngstock and cows. Providing weights for cows at weaning is important data, that will support on-going research and we hope lead to the development of an EBV for this trait.

National Beef Evaluation Carcase Trait EBVs now available through Signet

Since 2018, AHDB has published the National Beef Evaluations, providing estimated breeding values (EBVs) for all breeds and crossbreeds of cattle to allow breeders to select animals for improved carcase and maternal traits. We are now working to make these tools available for Signet recording breeds through the Signet website, which will allow breeders to use all the available information in one place, to select the best breeding animals for their herd. This has been launched for Sussex breeders and other breeds will follow over the next few months, so watch this space.