Weekly Update: 05/08/16

Premier Ram Sales

On Saturday 30th July the Charollais premier sale took place in Tullow, Co. Carlow and the presence of high €uro-Star rams was very apparent with 81% of the catalogue having €uro-Star indexes. It was a similar story for the Belclare premier sale in Kilkenny on Tuesday 2nd August where 100% of sale entries had €uroStar indexes. Demand for very high starred rams which were also physically correct was correspondingly high. Sheep Ireland had a presence at both sales to answer any breeder/commercial farmer queries in relation to the €uro-Stars.

RamPlus Project

  • The Sheep Ireland RamPlus project is being run on a pilot basis this year. This project will develop into the future to promote the use of high Index, high accuracy genetics among our LambPlus pedigree ram breeders. The objective of this year’s pilot is to operate the project at a small level and identify the potential issues that arise. We have chosen just two breeds to simplify the pilot and the breeds chosen were Belclare and Texel, given that these are two breeds with full ancestry data available to our genetic evaluations thus maximising the accuracy % attached to the breeds €uro-Star evaluations.
  • Ram selection concentrated on the descendants of rams used in the Central Progeny test programme. The reason for this was again accuracy %. Rams related to CPT rams will have high accuracy given the amount of commercial farm data behind their genetic evaluations. Another criterion is high indexes, especially on the Replacement index, but also on Terminal index where possible. Of course another critical consideration is physical appearance. Given that all the rams selected were purchased at breed society ram sales and are being used by pedigree sheep breeders, they all meet the breed standards from a physical point of view. We acknowledge that every individual pedigree ram breeder have their own opinions on the type of ram they like to use, but the selection of rams identified this year certainly tick a lot of boxes.

Structure of RamPlus for 2016

Belclare breeders which have demonstrated an interest in partaking in the RamPlus project have already sponged their ewes to ensure that they are synchronised for the AI date. AI will take place in two locations on the same day and fresh semen will be used to inseminate the ewes. The Texel project will involve a slightly different structure. Given the large number of Texel flocks involved in LambPlus it is unlikely that a fresh semen AI programme would work. The rams that have been selected for the project are all owned by individual breeders and are required to mate with ewes on the farms of each respective breeder. As such it is not possible to take these rams for a long period of time to facilitate a programme of fresh semen AI around the country. For this reason we will take semen from these rams and freeze it. Any Texel LambPlus breeder will then have access to this high index semen at a subsidised rate.


Benefits of RamPlus to Pedigree Breeders and Ram Buyers

The benefits are numerous. The main one being access to high accuracy, high index genetics which will no doubt be in demand from commercial farmers the following year. Using this semen will also give the relevant flock excellent flock linkage to other Belclare/Texel flocks. For unlinked flocks or poorly linked flocks this will greatly improve the accuracy % of the entire flock and help Sheep Ireland deliver better genetic evaluations to these breeders. The major benefit however is the fact that more commercial sheep farmers will have access to high index, high accuracy breeding rams. If we are to make significant genetic progress in Ireland this is critical.

Teagasc Better Farm Sheep Event – John Doyles, Co. Wexford

Yesterday (Thursday 4 th August) Sheep Ireland presented at the Better Farm Sheep event which took place on the farm of John Doyles outside Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford. John is an excellent sheep farmer who is getting fantastic results from implementing very simple changes around his breeding policy and grassland management. There was a very large crowd in attendance on the day and proved to be another great event for sheep farmers to learn simple valuable take home messages. Data from John’s commercial sheep is being used in the Sheep Ireland €uro-Star evaluations. John is single sire mating a large number of ewes in his flock to rams with €uro-Star evaluations annually and recording information on his lambs from birth each year.

 Some Images from John’s Farm Walk