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North York Moors Swaledale Project completed

In 2017, a group of 6 North Yorkshire Swaledale breeders, with the help of AHDB Beef & Lamb, Signet Breeding Services and Kate Phillips, set out to prove that existing technologies could be used in the hills and uplands to improve the performance of their flocks. This has included genetic evaluation and meat yield assessment.

The project has demonstrated that performance recording is achievable in a challenging hill environment and that technologies such as farm software, EID and EBVs are not just for farms situated in more favourable lowland environments.

The group have successfully created a robust starting point for Swaledale genetic evaluations that both them and other breeders can use to benefit their flocks and the productivity of the hill sector going forwards, by demonstrating that real on-farm variation in performance from different sires progeny exists and can be used to select the best genetics for the flock, whilst maintaining breed ‘type’ and functionality. Data from this project has also made it possible for Swaledale sheep to join Signets new hill-sheep evaluations.

Post-project, most of the group will continue to performance record their flocks and use the resulting data as a selection tool within their breeding programmes. Some members of the group have also expanded their recorded flocks from a nucleus to the whole flock and branched out into recording other breeds on the farm e.g. Bluefaced Leicester. AHDB and Signet will continue to support the group as appropriate.

The final report can be found here

To find Swaledale breeders use Flock Finder and to find Swaledale reports click here

To hear from Project farmers Tim Dunn and Barry Wheldon about their experience of the project and the benefits they have seen re-watch the recording of our ‘table talk’ recorded in May 2020.


About the author

Emma Steele

Emma Steele

With a first from Newcastle, Emma joined the Signet Breeding Services team and quickly became a well liked and respected Breeding Consultant. 

In September she moved to the dark side, but we look forward to her rejoining us in 2020