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RamCompare update for Charollais breeders March 2024

By Bridget Lloyd, RamCompare Project Manager

Our ability to assess a ram’s genetic potential for carcase traits provides an important way to demonstrate their economic worth; providing commercial ram buyers with an accurate and unbiased way to compare the breeding merit of different animals.

RamCompare, the national progeny test, supports those Charollais breeders that performance record their flocks with Signet by showing how Charollais rams with high EBVs perform on commercial farms and has enabled the development of more accurate genetic predictors of carcase value.

Complimenting the long-standing breeding values for Scan Weight, Muscle Depth and Fat Depth, we have a series of new breeding values which include Days to Slaughter, Carcase Weight, Conformation and Fat Class. Since the combined breed evaluation update last spring, these abattoir derived traits are published for all performance recorded rams.

Charollais involvement in RamCompare

The Charollais breed has always been an early adopter of research and breeders have been extremely supportive of our work. Over 100 different Charollais sires have been tested to date by RamCompare producing over 19,000 Charollais sired lambs.

RamCompare findings clearly show:-

  • A ram’s Scan Weight EBV has a major impact on the speed his progeny will finish.
  • Both Muscle Depth and Gigot EBVs influence carcase conformation.
  • Breeding values for Fat Depth strongly influence a lamb’s fat classification.

A index called Lamb Value has been produced to rank rams according to the expected profitability of their lambs.

Economic merit shines through at Dupath Farm

Few RamCompare farms have tested more Charollais than Adrian and Lyn Combe at Dupath Farm in Cornwall. At Dupath farm they have assessed 14 different terminal sire breeds as part of RamCompare including 19 Charollais sires. Rams are mated to a March lambing Mule flock and their lambs are finished off grass from late summer through to early February.


Progeny Test Results for Charollais sired lambs at Dupath Farm


Carcase Weight (kg)

Age at Slaughter (days)

Lamb Value - Leading five sires




Lamb Value - Average performance




Lamb Value - Bottom five sires




* Rams have different numbers of lambs depending on whether they are AI or Natural Service

Whilst both environmental and genetic factors will clearly influence the speed of finishing on any commercial farm, the impact that high genetic merit Charollais have at Dupath is clear to see. At 15p/day, the reduction in finishing time achieved by the best sires is easily worth an extra £3.90/lamb – and these lambs were heavier at slaughter too.  


Fast finishing Charollais – More valuable and more environmentally friendly

Finishing speed is important on any farm. Slow growing lambs consume more food over their lifetime, are more likely to succumb to disease/forage shortages and have a higher carbon footprint.

Recent AHDB funded research at SRUC shows that whilst a lamb’s carcase weight is influenced by several genetic factors including both growth and muscling traits, the speed with which lambs are finished is greatly influenced by their sire’s Scan Weight EBV. This is clearly demonstrated in this chart, where the breeding values for Scan Weight and Days to Slaughter are plotted for 100 progeny tested Charollais rams.


Take home message

The message for commercial ram buyers is very simple. If you want lambs that are away quickly then select rams with high Scan Weight EBVs. Head to to find a recorded Charollais flock near you.

With farmers showing an increasing interest in getting lambs finished more quickly from forage, ram breeders should use EBVs when selecting their future stock sires and also consider how they can get their carcase data included in the National Terminal Sire Evaluation.

For more information:

About the author

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.