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Rams on Test

RamCompare measures the performance of recorded rams across all terminal sire breeds for growth and carcase traits. New carcase trait performance measures have been developed, so that industry can make better breeding decisions and ultimately improve farm profitability.

We rely on breeders to nominate their rams each year for the project; selected rams are put on test at one of our commercial farms.

Ram Nominations

The project is looking for rams with Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) in the top 20% of the breed. Natural service sires should be shearlings or stock rams with a known, high health status. Older stock rams are welcome providing they are fit and fertile. RamCompare will also purchase frozen semen in batches of 30 doses for use via artificial insemination (AI).

We use an online nomination site where full breeder and ram details can be provided. There are two specific forms, one for nominations of semen for Artificial Insemination (AI) sires and one for the nomination of rams for sale for use as natural service sires. Nominations close in May and we select a team of around 70 rams from over 200 ram submissions. Selections are based on ram performance and pedigree criteria.

Now beginning its ninth year, RamCompare has tested 468 terminal sire rams, producing more than 44,000 lambs from commercial ewes, mated using artificial insemination (AI) or natural service.

Pedigree terminal sire breeders are encouraged to submit ram nominations to RamCompare, the national progeny test. Nominations open in February and close on 17 May 2024.

All successful candidates are contacted directly so that confirmation can be agreed. We then contact all other breeders to thank them for their support and confirm that the selection process is complete.

Natural service rams: All rams are used as single sire mating groups with 30-90 ewes each.

Due to the strict biosecurity involved with the purchase of rams as natural service sires for our partner farms, we ask for health documents to be uploaded with the nomination submission. Natural service rams are purchased and placed into quarantine on our host farms, the project vet conducts a thorough health and fertility MOT at each quarantine facility. The rams will remain in quarantine until all health tests are confirmed, only negative rams will be released from quarantine onto the designated farms, any non-negative rams may be rejected. Any health issues arising are discussed directly with the original breeder and in the case of a rejection a replacement ram may be sourced if possible.

AI sires: We purchase frozen semen to use as AI sires for groups of 30 ewes. We will liaise with breeders and their AI centres to ensure all involved are aware of the date semen is required, to ensure all orders are confirmed and organised correctly.

All their commercial progeny are measured from birth to slaughter for a number of attributes, including body weight, muscle: fat ratio, carcase weight and conformation. This information is linked to their sire to create Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) for traits of economic importance help identify the most profitable rams within the population. We have published results booklets each year up to 2023, following the first seven years of the project. These results were issued each year in the spring to coincide with the start of the ram selling season.

Publishing results

As of 2023, the results booklets ceased due to the development of the RamCompare Evaluation being combining into the National Terminal Sire Evaluation. Since then, data is added throughout the season and results are thus refreshed on a monthly basis. Instead of the results booklet being published, we now direct folk to the Signet website to download up to date information at the time it is required to coincide with ram selling season or making future plans for their own breeding strategies.

We continue to write updates with specific breed focus or commercial farm case studies to highlight results each season.