This coming July, Sheep Ireland in association with Teagasc are planning to hold a number of on-farm evening workshops for Irish ram breeders. The objective of these workshops will be to explain the workings of the Sheep Ireland genetic evaluations to current and future LambPlus breeders. Ram breeders are the people that engage most with commercial sheep farmers, so if we can increase the knowledge of LambPlus breeders about the Indices, this will help ram breeders to pass the message on to commercial farmers.
We plan to run six workshops in various locations around Ireland and will invite all ram breeders to attend. We will circulate letters along with using this weekly update in the coming weeks to announce dates and venues. We will use national press to promote the workshops also.
CPT weaning weight capture
In the coming weeks we will be visiting our CPT flocks again to record another lamb weight – the weaning weight or 100 day weight. We will use this opportunity to capture other data such as lameness, daginess and visual quality scores. We also plan to collect Faecal samples to allow us carry out Faecal Egg Counts (FEC) on individual lambs. Our plan will be to sample a representative number of lambs from each CPT sire used on each farm. This FEC analysis will in turn be used in the new €uroStar health Index which we plan to release in 2017.
All CPT lambs are also scored for daginess. The dirtiest lambs are scored 1 and the cleanest lambs are scored 5 (see diagram below) .The key is to be consistent when scoring a group of animals on any given day and during the genetic evaluation Sheep Ireland will remove the effects of differences between years and flocks.
Recording health data in LambPlus
Once we launch our health Index it will be critical that we capture a routine source of data to help build the index and the accuracy% associated with the Index. Of course our CPT flocks will continue to be a major source of health data, but we will also be calling on LambPlus flocks to begin recording some of this type of information. A health recording screen is now available to all LambPlus breeders and we would encourage breeders to begin using it where possible. Health issues have always been high on the agenda in the Irish sheep industry. This genetic index will help ram breeders and commercial farmers to select more resilient animals into the future – but this will only happen if the required data is recorded. Click here for more information on recording health data.