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Signet joins forces with teams from across AHDB to deliver a series of workshops across the North of England.

The Right Carcase, Right Market series was planned by AHDB North KE manager Karl Pendlebury in collaboration with industry stakeholders Carrs Billington, Milcroft Vets, NFU, Dale Head Vets and Wright & Morton Vets.

Each event provided attendees the opportunity to join a series of stations with expert speakers covering topics from genetics to market insights to butchery and selection demonstrations. Designed to challenge ideas and highlight opportunities for improvements within the farming systems and the consumer in mind.

The Signet team highlighted the importance of using breeding values and indexes to help make those all-important purchasing or selection decisions.

A flock’s physical performance directly affects its profitability. Efficient animals require less inputs for the same or increased output and thereby boost the financial returns to the business. The only way to lift flock productivity permanently and with some certainty is through selective breeding. The improvements made initially will build year on year, making genetic improvement sustainable, cumulative, and therefore a cost-effective way of boosting productivity and profitability. With the potential to earn an extra £3–4 per lamb, using rams with superior breeding values provide opportunities to increase flock profitability.

When making purchasing decisions it can be hard to look at a ram and predict its genetic merit for growth or the prolificacy of daughters, this is where breeding values are an important tool in the selection of breeding stock.  It has never been more exciting with continued advancements in technology providing opportunities for genomic information to be used within evaluations to enhance breeding values, with genomic predictors that are more accurate, informative, and reliable.

Laura Eyles, Senior Signet Breeding Specialist, said; “These events have been scheduled at a poignant time as the Agricultural sector undergoes significant changes in support payments and farmers are looking to improve on farm productivity and profitability. Genetics play an important role in moving the industry forward and allow farmers to capitalise on cumulative genetic gain.”

This was demonstrated with case studies from the RamCompare project, highlighting how high genetic merit terminal sires can improve performance on commercial farms from birth through to slaughter. With reduced days on farm and improvements in overall carcase conformation providing farmers with greater opportunities to capitalise on returns on investment.

It has never been easier to use breeding values to assist with ram purchasing. As part of the RamCompare project, new EBVs for four important carcase traits have been released using abattoir data:

  • Days to slaughter
  • Carcase weight
  • Conformation
  • Fat class

These new EBVs are routinely calculated as part of the National Terminal Sire Evaluation, run by AHDB’s Signet Breeding Services, and were developed using data collected as part of the commercial progeny test, RamCompare.

About the author

Laura Eyles

Laura Eyles

Laura has joined the Signet team as a breeding specialist, she comes from an agricultural background having grown up on a sheep farm in Cornwall, where they keep commercial ewes and run a small flock of pedigree Charollais sheep.

Laura has a strong interest in animal breeding and genetics having studied Animal Science (BSc Hons) at Harper Adams University. During her time at Harper, she spent an industrial placement in Cumbria working for a sheep breeding company and some of our clients may recognise her from this role. Since graduating she has worked for a large cattle breeding company before joining us at Signet to lead on a number of Signet’s sheep breeding projects.