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Weekly Update 15/01/16

Recording Lambing Data in 2016

Lambing is the most important time of the year from a genetic evaluation point of view. The accuracy of the €uro-Star evaluations is central to the accuracy of the lambing data recorded by each LambPlus breeder. Parentage, lamb mortality and lambing performance are some of the most critical elements which determine each lamb’s €uro-Star evaluations. Genomics will hopefully help breeders to achieve 100% parentage accuracy. However genomics will never replace the need for the accurate recording of lambing data. All LambPlus breeders are encouraged to use the Sheep Ireland lambing notebooks to record their lambing data as these booklet contain all the necessary fields required to guarantee complete data records.


OVIGEN Genotyping Pilot Project

Sheep Ireland continue to collect DNA samples from Pedigree flocks for the OVIGEN genomics research project. While lambing is well underway on many ram breeders flocks, there is still a number of late lambing flocks which we are visiting. In 2016 OVIGEN will fund a pilot project involving 10 breeders from each of the main breeds involved in the project (Texel, Charollais, Suffolk, Belclare & Vendeen). Flocks have been selected to partake in this project based on their flock DQI score. These flocks will now be offered the opportunity to genotype 50% of the male lambs born into their flocks this year. This genotyping will be carried out free of charge. We will be requesting breeders to select their best male lambs (i.e. the lambs that are likely to be presented for sale as breeding animals).

Provided that we have successfully genotyped both the Sire and Dam of the relevant ram lamb, we will be in a position to verify the parentage of each ram lamb involved. Breeders will be in a position to advertise their stock as ‘parentage verified’. This should provide breeders involved in the pilot project with a significant advantage in the market place. Not only will it guarantee accurate parentage, it will also increase the level of confidence in the genetic evaluations being provided by Sheep Ireland.

The objective of this pilot project will be to develop the required systems to facilitate the widespread genotyping of Irish pedigree sheep. Significant investment is required in the Sheep Ireland web screens to provide a system where each LambPlus breeder can view the ‘DNA status’ of each animal in their flock – For example, animals in every flock may have a different status – DNA sample not available, DNA sample in storage, DNA sample being genotyped, Genotype available, etc. etc. Development of ways to report the results of genotyping for each breeder’s sheep will be a critical element also. Our aim is to have significant progress made in this area by 2017.


Reminder of System Updates

Just a quick reminder that the Sheep Ireland website will be completely unavailable from this evening (Friday 15th) to Monday morning (18th January) due to a major upgrade of the computer hardware on which all of its services are hosted. This upgrade will not change how screens are presented but will hopefully improve their performance significantly.