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RamCompare year 6 press release - top breeding boosts profit and productivity in commercial lambs

RamCompare’s year six results demonstrate how rams with key breeding traits can optimise flock profitability. In four case studies flock profitability was enhanced by £1.98 to £5.17 per lamb; with some rams producing lambs that finished several weeks earlier than others.

The full results, which report the data collected and analysed from rams with the fastest growth rates, best conformation and most valuable progeny, will be presented in an industry webinar on 19 May, which is free to attend and open to all.

RamCompare uses nominated performance-recorded rams from many breeds on commercial farms across the UK. The project has recorded the performance of more than 30,000 lambs, sired by 313 rams over six breeding seasons. For the year six results, a team of 60 natural service rams were used, producing performance data from more than 5,000 lambs.

This joint levy-funded research project demonstrates how commercial producers can use specific estimated breeding values (EBVs) to identify rams with high genetic potential and prove their worth when assessing financial impact.

When looking at how ram selection might influence meat eating quality, the data highlights genetic differences in shear force; an indicator of meat tenderness. With thanks to Randall Parker and Dunbia, trial lambs were selected for primal measurements to determine front, middle and haunch carcase yield, at the same time, loin samples from these carcases were retained. Over 4,000 lambs have been included from a range of Terminal sire breeds to identify rams whose progeny produce the most tender meat. This pioneering work which has been led by AHDB, will also identify how sheep breeding programmes can change to enhance traits that influence meat eating quality.

RamCompare Project Coordinator, Bridget Lloyd says: “The RamCompare results identify progeny groups which have excelled for carcase conformation and value as a direct result of the genetic merit of their sire.

“We have also identified sires with enhanced genes for speed of growth whose lambs were finishing a week or two ahead of other progeny groups on the same farm. These are large differences in performance and clearly show why producers wishing to enhancing flock profitability, must select those rams with the best genetics for their production system and end market.”

To register for the results webinar on 19 May, visit https://ahdb.org.uk/events/webinar-ramcompare-year-six-results. For more information on RamCompare, including case studies and data, visit ramcompare.com

About the author

Bridget Lloyd

Bridget Lloyd

Bridget Lloyd – RamCompare Project Coordinator

After finishing university, Bridget worked on two well-known sheep research projects operating out of Aberystwyth University; the Longwool project and the Welsh Sheep Strategy.

In the year 2000, Bridget took a leading role in Cymru Breeding Services, (later Innovis and now known as AB Europe). Bridget was centre manager specialising in ovine fertility, operating a stud for 100 rams and coordinating four vet teams. She has specialised in ovine fertility and has worked closely with pedigree sheep and their breeders throughout her career.

With an extensive background in the sheep industry she now runs RamCompare. Her main responsibility is to liaise with project farms and abattoirs to ensure the data submitted is accurate and delivered on time, as well as co-ordinating the communication plan and ram nominations....and hundreds of other things.