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Antur report from Ram Compare

Texel rams from the Antur flock shine in the Ram-Compare project

The Antur flock of Texel sheep, owned by Aberystwyth University Farms, was one of the founder members of the Texel Sire Reference Scheme.  This scheme, started in 1990, introduced performance recording and genetic evaluation to improve growth rate and carcass quality, characteristics of major importance for commercial lamb producers.  In the early years, as was normal practice for pedigree breeders of terminal sire rams, high levels of creep feeding were used to maximise early lamb growth rates.  Even though this is still the case for many pedigree breeders, around 10 years later the way in which the Antur flock was managed changed, with performance recording being undertaken on pedigree lambs reared at pasture with their dams without supplementary creep feed.  This change was made to allow genetic selection and improvement to be undertaken in an environment which better reflected that in which their progeny were required to perform on commercial farms.  In spite of that change, the Antur Texel flock remains one of the highest genetic merit flocks within the breed, with Antur rams performing exceptionally well within the Ram-Compare project.

The Ram-Compare Project, jointly funded by AHDB, HCC and QMS, involves detailed evaluation of the growth, carcass characteristics and financial value of the progeny of high index terminal sires of various breeds on commercial farms.  Pedigree terminal sire ram breeders are able to nominate performance recorded rams for inclusion, and two rams bred within the Antur flock have featured to date:

  • Antur Wythaberyst (AAA1508227), sold to another breeder, used during Year 4;
  • Antur Boomer (AAA1812526), an Antur flock stock ram used during Year 5.








Antur Boomer (AAA1812526) as yearling in 2019 (left) and in spring 2021 (right)

On these commercial farms the rams are used in single sire mating groups (either natural service or through artificial insemination (AI)), and the performance of their progeny compared with that of other nominated high index terminal sire rams and at times the commercial farms own ‘stock’ terminal sires.  Over the five years of the project a total of 26,000 lambs, the progeny of 280 rams from 11 breeds have been subject to detailed recording from birth, to include growth rates and carcass evaluation.  Given the manner in which genetic links are established between commercial farms using AI from specific sires on some of the ewes, and between years by using some sires over successive mating seasons it is possible to evaluate the progeny over the entire project as a single genetically related population.  While the genetic evaluation of terminal sire rams in pedigree breeders flocks provides information on the estimated breeding values (EBVs) for the different traits evaluated, the information collected from the commercial farms provides information on the actual breeding values of these same sires – in essence it is a natural progeny test of the various rams.  In the case of Antur Boomer he was used as an AI sire for the 2019 commercial farm mating and is one of the current stock sires within the Antur Texel flock itself.

The latest results from Year 5 and overall have just been published by Signet Breeding Services and the full report can be found at ramcompare-2021-final-version-4193_210504_web.pdf ( and the two Antur rams noted above have performed exceptionally well. 


Key points from the progeny test results:

Scan weight EBV:

This is a performance trait that can be used to identify rams with a genetic potential to produce progeny with high growth rates:

  • Antur Boomer was rated 2nd highest of all rams used in Year 5;
  • Antur Wythaberyst was rated 3rd highest, and Antur Boomer was rated 5th highest among the total of 280 rams used over the full five years.

Carcass weight EBV:

A positive carcass weight EBV indicates rams with the potential to produce heavier carcass progeny:

  • Antur Boomer was rated 5th highest of all rams used in Year 5;
  • Antur Wythaberyst was rated 2nd and Antur Boomer was rated 13th highest out of a total of 280 rams used of the full 5 years.

Overall carcass merit:

Overall carcass merit is an overall index given to each sire on test and takes into account the individual EBVs for carcass weight, carcass conformation and carcass fat class.

  • Antur Boomer was rated 8th highest of the rams used in Year 5;
  • Antur Wythaberyst was rated 6th overall across the full 5 years.

Both rams are amongst the top five Texel rams in their respective Tables.

Primal meat yields:

As well as the collection of carcass weights and classification of the progeny of all rams used, the carcass is broken down into the three primals of (i) Front, (ii) Middle and (iii) Haunch (or hind quarter).  Texel sheep are noted for their excellent conformation

  • Antur Boomer was the highest scoring ram for haunch weight of its progeny, the highest ranking ram from all 280 rams on test to date.

On the commercial farm on which he was used Antur Boomer was at the top end of all rams used in Year 5 for genetic merit for overall carcass value.  Indeed, the top sires for carcass merit produced lambs worth an extra £6.67/lamb (see page 9 of the Ram Compare 2021 report for Hendre Ifan Goch case study for more detail).

Collectively, these results serve to illustrate the major achievements that the Antur flock has achieved since performance recording and genetic improvement were first introduced back in 1990.  Not only is it one of the highest Terminal Sire Index flocks within the Texel breed, but the joint levey-funded Ram-Compare Project results clearly illustrate the benefits of this improvement to commercial lamb production.  Commercial producers can therefore buy an Antur texel ram safe in the knowledge that it will be among the best available.

About the author

Samuel Boon

Samuel Boon

I am the Manager of Signet Breeding Services, within the AHDB.

Enthusiast on all things genetics to do with sheep and cattle and currently also supporting Bridget Lloyd in running the @RamCompare progeny test with ~18,000 lambs/annum.

I am also involved with the:-

  • Relaunch of Terminal Sire Breeding Programmes (Sheep)
  • AHDB lead for the Welsh Sheep Breeding Project run by HCC - working with Innovis, HCC and Janet Roden
  • Database design and development for this website
  • National Sheep Breeds Survey
  • Development of Carcase Trait EBVs in Beef Cattle
  • Formerly involved with the delivery of the Welsh Sheep Strategy, Northern Upland Sheep Strategy, Suckler Cow Project, Highlands and Islands Sheep Strategy

I can be followed on Twitter @SamBoonBreeding