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Genomic breeding values launched and new presentation of the hill index

Genomic breeding values launched and new presentation of the hill index

Signet are proud to announce the release of the UK’s first commercially available genomic breeding values for sheep. The release of genomic breeding values is a major first for the UK industry following research lead by Samir Id Lahoucine at SRUC; work was funded as part of the Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) lead Hill Ram Scheme and has been implemented as part of Farming Connects Welsh Sheep Genetics Programme. Collaboration with Innovis and SRUC provided access to additional genotypes, widening the industry impact and potential of this work.

Genomic data will initially be used to enhance the breeding values of the Brecknock Hill Cheviot, Hardy Speckle, Eppynt Speckle, North Country Cheviot (Hill type), Scottish Blackface, South Welsh Mountain and Welsh Mountain breeds. The new approach will incorporate information collected as part of DNA parentage assignment into the breeding values produced by Signet to produce genomic predictors that are more accurate, informative and reliable. Genomic approaches are particularly useful for maternal breeds when trying to predict the genetic merit of animals early in their life and when assessing traits with a low genetic component (like lamb survival) or take a lifetime to be expressed (like longevity).

The introduction of genomic information into the analysis is a major change to the way we assess the population. The genetic variation that we observe across the population is different and the ranking of sheep within flocks will have changed as the accuracy of our initial predictions has increased.

As well as implementing these new genomic breeding values, we are also changing the way that the hill index is expressed. The hill index that was developed by Geneticist Janet Roden has always been based on economic principles and it will now be expressed in economic terms representing the relative economic merit of a ram’s daughters. So a ram with a hill index of +£7.50 will breed daughters that we predict to be £3.75 more profitable per annum than a ram with a hill index of £0. As before, the indexes can’t be compared between breeds – but do provide a useful way to rank animals based on the economic merit of their genetics.

Further information be accessed for individual animals here or you can generate your own reports here. If you need assistance getting access to your flock information, please drop the Signet team a line ([email protected])

Join us on 28th June for an evening webinar that is being run by Farming Connect (invitations to be sent out by Farming Connect). For more information about the webinar please contact Gwawr Hughes [email protected] or to get an invitation for the event contact Elan Davies [email protected]


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