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Chawton Park - Genetics influence speed of finishing

Chawton Park, Hampshire - Fast finishing genetics help ease the grazing pressure at Chawton Park

Lambing in May has many advantages for Ian Robertson, but even in the best growing seasons, it is a race to get lambs finished and leave enough grass to mate the ewes. Easing the grazing pressure makes life easier, particularly in a dry season and ultimately means fewer lambs require expensive finishing after Christmas.

Important genetic differences can be seen in the performance of progeny by different rams, with those by sires with superior breeding values for days to slaughter finishing 2–3 weeks earlier than others within the group.

The Thorbeck Hampshire Down ram, 80X1700402, provided by Jim Birkwood, had the best breeding value for days to slaughter with a number of close followers from the Yarcombe and Normanby Hampshire Down flocks and the Midhope Suffolk flock.

Speed of finishing shouldn’t be looked at in isolation, some of the slower-growing sires produced lambs that ultimately realised a higher value, but when every mouthful counts, this comes at a cost to the system. When the grass starts to burn off in the summer, the more lambs that are off the farm and in the bank, the better.

The value of recorded rams at Chawton Park
• Top sires for carcase merit = Generated an extra £7.86/lamb
• Top sires for days to slaughter = Reduced finishing time by 29 days

Key message
Selecting rams with a high Scan Weight EBV can reduce days to slaughter.