Weekly Update: 08/07/16

Ram Breeder Workshops

This week saw the ram breeder workshops kicking off, starting on Monday evening (4th July); we visited the flock of Anne and Aidan Murphy near Gorey, Co. Wexford. This was followed by another workshop on Tuesday (5th July) on the farm of Arthur, Patrick and Susan O’Keeffe outside Mallow in Co. Cork. The objective of these workshops is to educate all ram breeders (LambPlus and non-LambPlus) about the workings of the €uroStar Indexes.

The Key Aims:

  • Demonstrate the physical checks breeders/farmers should do on all rams
  • Show that the €uroStars are working – latest validation
  • To discuss why €uroStar Indexes move for animals
  • How animals with similar/same bloodlines can have different €uroStar Indexes

By increasing ram breeders understanding of the Indexes and how they work, this will put breeders in a better position to educate commercial sheep farmers. The number of commercial sheep farmers that ram breeders interact with annually is huge and by arming these breeders with more information on how the indexes operate, in turn they will be better able to educate ram buyers.

There are three workshops scheduled to take place over the coming days:

  • Friday (8th July) – Eamon Duffy – Ethelstown, Kells, Co. Meath (7pm)
  • Monday (11th July) – James McKane – Whitehill, Killygordon, Co Donegal (7pm)
  • Friday (15th July) – Michael Murphy – Moneen, Cummer, Tuam, Co Galway (7pm)
Ram breeder workshops - Suffolk lambs on the O’Keeffe farm at the €uroStar validation stand.
Ram breeder workshops – Suffolk lambs on the O’Keeffe farm at the €uroStar validation stand.

Sheep Ireland Board Meeting (Thurs 7th)

This was the first meeting of the board since a number of new representatives were elected to the board. A number of important topics were discussed including:

  • OVIGEN genotyping results – results on parentage.
  • Update on OVIEGN pilot project – results on parentage will be in all catalogues this summer.
  • LambPlus sale plans – letters for entries will be sent out soon.
  •  Flockbook fees for 2017 – New proposal agreed by board will be communicated with all relevant breed society reps in the coming weeks.
  • CPT – Processes to source lamb carcase data are now in place.
  • €uroStar sale catalogue updates – Addition of DQI score, CPT ram category & Parentage verification status

Sheep Industry meeting (Thurs 7th)

A number of updates were delivered at this industry meeting including: 

  • Update on Sheep Ireland progress throughout the year.
  • Across breed evaluations.
  • OVIGEN and sheep genomics. o How DNA works. o How genomics can benefit Irish sheep farmers. o How we can keep genomics going into the future.
  •  INZAC flock – New Zealand & Irish sheep genetics trial.
  • Health data and plans to release a health Index next year.

The presentations from the meeting can be found  here

One of the main objectives of the day from a Teagasc/Sheep Ireland point of view was to try and get agreement on a funding model for genotyping replacement females and rams on an ongoing basis. Breeders that participated in the initial stages of the OVIGEN research project have established a foundation of genotyped ewes in their flocks at no cost to themselves. This presents a great opportunity for breeders that participated in OVIGEN to maintain a fully genotyped flocks going forward – with full parentage verification status of all animals being one of the major advantages of this.

In the coming weeks and months Sheep Ireland and Teagasc will work with breed societies to put in place arrangements to encourage breeders to genotype their replacement females and males. Unfortunately the full cost of this future genotyping can no longer be carried by the OVIGEN research project, but it will be possible to subsidise a portion of the genotype cost for a period of time – possibly two years.

At the industry meeting yesterday it was presented that the current cost of a 15,000 SNP genotype is €28.50 (Incl cost of tag and Vat). OVIGEN has the potential to subsidise a large proportion of this cost for a two year period – provide breeders/breed societies are willing to pay €10 (plus the cost of the relevant DNA tag). We will be approaching the relevant breed societies and breeders to discuss this option soon. Only breeders that have taken part in OVIGEN to date will be eligible for this subsidised genotyping offer at this point in time.

Noirin McHugh speaking at the Sheep Industry meeting yesterday (Thurs 7th).
Noirin McHugh speaking at the Sheep Industry meeting yesterday (Thurs 7th).