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Dorset May Fair 2021

The Dorset May Fair makes a positive start for performance recording breeders as the sale season gets underway. There are great levels of performance recording in the Dorset breed and 27% of the rams sold at the May Fair were performance recorded. The performance recording created a large premium to the rams sold, with a clear link between Ram Index and price achieved.

Using performance recording to assess the genetics of the rams meant that the Terminal Sire Index and Maternal Indexes of rams were reflected in the price, as buyers were looking for high genetic merit sires. Rams sitting higher in the breed rankings achieved higher prices, with the Index of rams a good barometer to the sale price (see the graph below).

The breed benchmark shows where a sheep’s genetics place it within the breed. To find sheep with the best overall genetics, select sheep in the top 25% or 10% (for the best genetics in the breed). Rams in the top 10% of the breed achieved an average price of £2,168 and non-recorded rams averaged £1,012 per head, meaning there was a £1,156 per head premium for recorded rams with top performing genetics. Rams in the top 25% of the breed averaged £1,893, meaning a premium of £881 per head. This shows the clear demand ram buyers put behind recorded rams for the value they will bring to their own flock through improved flock performance, but also the value it can add to a pedigree flock when marketing top-quality breeding stock.



Number of animals

Total price (£)

Average price


Top 10% total




Top 25% total




Non- recorded




Recording your flock is easy, and a cost effective way to improve both your flock’s physical performance and the prices you request for your rams.

Performance recording uses an animal’s pedigree and performance information to calculate the genetic merit as Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) in key traits that link to flock production and productivity. These can be used to rank sheep within and across flocks to select those with the most profitable genetics, regardless of management. Indexes are a combination of EBVs to reflect the overall genetic merit of the sheep in their role within the industry. For Dorset sheep and other terminal sire breeds both Terminal Sire Index and Maternal Index EBVs are available.  

Ram genetics have a massive impact on lamb performance and farm profitability. In the RamCompare project, on the same farm a difference in progeny output is commonly £4 per head adding up to over £1,000 over the working life of a ram. To find out more about the impact selecting rams can have on commercial farm performance check out some real commercial farm findings.

Performance recording with Signet is not just a data evaluation service. Recording flocks have access to numerous reports to aid selection and marketing, the ability to list sheep for sale and produce catalogues, and an inbreeding calculator to manage inbreeding within your flock.

To find out more about EBVs and recording your flock head to or contact Ed Brant ([email protected]).

About the author

Ed Brant

Ed Brant

Ed joined the Signet team in September 2019, once he had got Kelso ram sales out of the way! 

He has a degree in Agriculture from Newcastle University and a massive interest in genetics and performance recording.

The family farm in Lincolnshire has pedigree Hampshire Down and Lleyn flocks, as well as commercial sheep and cattle.