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Shropshire sired lambs evaluated for carcase traits

Over the past four years Shropshire breeders have been involved in RamCompare, the UKs national progeny test. Data from the project demonstrates the role this native breed plays in the commercial sheep sector and predicts a ram’s economic worth to a flock. This information provides a useful insight for commercial buyers to select the right rams to achieve their lamb enterprise objectives. 

In recorded flocks data is collected and turned into estimated breeding values (EBVs) to demonstrate a ram’s genetic potential. The RamCompare project has shown the value of this work, with improvements in growth rate (assessed in pedigree flocks as the Scan Weight EBV) leading to a reduction in days to slaughter (faster finishing lambs) and an increase in carcase weights.  

RamCompare host farms measure commercial progeny performance

Rams are placed on commercial farms across the UK that are committed to collecting high quality data. The ewes on each farm (typically Lleyn, Mule or Composite) are a uniform type and lambs are predominately finished from grass and managed as a single group to ensure sires are compared fairly.

The project aim is to finish lambs within the UK target market specification, with lambs achieving a carcase weight of 17-19kg and grading at R2/3L. Rams are run with relatively small groups of ewes (40) to obtain the desired data and most rams are used for a single season to ensure the project tests as many rams as possible.

Over four seasons, a total of eight Shropshire rams have been included to date, with progeny data collected (from birth to slaughter) from 561 lambs.

Crossbred progeny achieving target market specification

The data below shows that crossbred lambs sired by Shropshire rams routinely hit an R grade or better, often out of plainer ewe types with few overfat lambs recorded. Over four years the average carcase weight for each Shropshire sired progeny group has ranged between 17.2kg and 19.6kg.

Lamb classification 










































Grand Total (# lambs)






                        Table 1: Total Shropshire sired lambs standard kill data for conformation and fat class

Project data helps to predict carcase merit

RamCompare, supports Shropshire breeders that performance record their flocks, providing evidence of how their high EBVS sires perform on commercial farms.

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. Data collected from the project has enabled the development of more accurate predictors for carcase value. These abattoir derived traits are published for all performance recorded rams. 

This analysis provides sound marketing information for pedigree breeders demonstrating an accurate and unbiased way to compare the genetic potential of different animals. Individual breeding traits can be used as evidence to reassure commercial ram buyers and clearly confirms the progress being achieved within the breed.

How to get involved

Due to the keen involvement of pedigree breeders supporting RamCompare we have tested 468 high index rams and collected data from over 44,000 commercial progeny.

The 2024 lambing season is now underway and we look forward to following progeny this year from new rams including, Ushers Igor KX:2101057, Alderton LU:2201040 and Hackford Athelstan ALM:2200062.

Please continue to support our national progeny test through nominating your rams for use this season!

For more information visit or contact [email protected]


Glascoed Farm focus

Alwyn Nutting farms at Aberhafesp, Powys and Glascoed is one of the commercial farms we collect data from. Around 400 composite ewes are crossed to RamCompare Terminal sire breeds using single sire natural service and artificial insemination. Rams are turned out mid-October for March lambing. Lambs are managed as one group and finished from grass, selected from the end of June to January.

The table below shows the progeny groups at Glascoed with the average slaughter age and carcase weight for each Shropshire sire, comparing them to the overall flock average for each season.

Shropshire sire and year

# lambs

Average slaughter age (days)

Average carcase weight (kg)

 Glascoed Farm - 2022




LU:2000893 Alderton Major




Glascoed Farm - 2023




ABB:2100598 Cefn-Carnau




There were 39 Shropshire sired progeny from a total of 456 lambs in 2022 and a higher proportion were Shropshire sired the following year.

Both sires have performed well when compared to the average for the total progeny each season.

Shropshire crossbred lambs have generally finishing quicker than the combined total average of the ten different rams on test each year, albeit at slightly lighter carcase weights.

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.