Supply chain partners join forces on sheep genetics initiative
The UK sheep and lamb industries have pulled together on a new sheep genetics programme, which aims to increase industry awareness of breeding values.
RamCompare is the two-year programme that will see the creation of six commercial farms, where sheep will be artificially inseminated to produce 500 lambs per farm, per year, analysing each breed for market value.
Sixty-seven rams from five breeds – Texel, Suffolk, Charolais, Hampshire Down and Meatlinc – will be tested across the 2016 and 2017 lambing seasons.
Data from the rams’ lambs will be gathered through to slaughter, evaluating whether the inclusion of rams’ genetics improves their accuracy.
The two-year pilot project will be co-funded by Eblex, Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), which have been joined by sheep specialist Agrisearch, with support provided by the Sainsbury’s ‘Big Data’ Agriculture R&D Grant Scheme, Randall Parker Foods, Dunbia and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).
Eblex breeding specialist Sam Boon said: “This will be the first time a commercial progeny test has been established in the UK on this scale. It will enable the performance of progeny by different rams to be compared under commercial conditions; so it will be an important step in allowing animals to be compared, irrespective of breed.
“It is also a truly unique project as it involves partners from right along the supply chain.
“The ambition is that, in time, one genetic analysis will be produced that will encompass data for all terminal sire breeds.”
Eblex said a list of test rams ranked on their breeding values will be published in 2017.
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