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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.

Dorset Centurion Group Autumn Newsletter

The latest Dorset Centurion newsletter can be read here

What is to be gained from using a recorded ram?

Many breeders have been involved in performance recording and research for more than 50 years. The cumulative and permanent change this creates in the breed, means that over time the improvements made in recorded flocks benefit the whole breed.

How does ultrasound scanning enhance Terminal Sires?

In recent years there has been an increasing number of breeders have had their lambs measured using Signet’s ultrasound scanning service as part of their breeding programmes. It is a great tool to identify sheep with superior muscling, while avoiding those likely to be excessively fat. This is the best way of identifying animals with superior genes for muscling and this data is used to produce Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs).

Scoping study: Delivering a vision for improving the beef and sheep sectors through animal breeding over the next 10 years.

The report presents evidence to inform decisions related to the development of the genetic improvement infrastructure for the UK sheep and beef sector, in order to improve financial sustainability and reduce environmental impact of the sector, including the current financial benefit of genetic improvement.

Record prices achieved at virtual ram sales

During the summer, we launched some new estimated breeding values (EBVs) for sheep farmers. To explain what these were and how useful they could be, we hit the road to talk to farmers about them at a series of workshops.

Farmers attending the workshops heard how careful ram selection can easily lift the value of lambs by £3–£5 a head, which would be worth an extra £1,000 over a ram’s working lifetime.

The role of genetics when selecting for profitability and growth from forage

Assessing a ram’s genetic merit is key when looking to maximise profitability within the flock and accelerate growth from forage

Measuring methane emissions from individual sheep, an update from SRUC.

Results from preliminary trials of the new PACs owned by SRUC support research findings from New Zealand, Ireland and other countries: methane emissions from sheep are feasible to measure on-farm using Portable Accumulation Chambers (PAC) under UK conditions and that there is variability between animals in methane emissions recorded by PACs that could potentially be exploited within breeding programmes.

Economic Expression of Hill Index

Performance recording has been used within hill sheep breeding programmes for many years, but recent developments as part of the Hill Ram Scheme in Wales has led to changes in the expression of the index. From June 2023 the index will be expressed in £ as the expected annual return per ewe.