Weekly Update: 23/12/16

Firstly, Happy Christmas to all readers of this Sheep Ireland Update. We would like to thank all LambPlus members, sheep breed societies, commercial sheep farmers and all industry stakeholders for their continued support. A lot of progress has been made in 2016 and we will aim to continue this in 2017.

LambPlus Lambing Notebooks

  • All LambPlus breeders should have received their LambPlus notebooks by today (Friday). Early lambing Vendeen flocks received theirs in mid-December.

OVIGEN Parentage Reports

  • In recent weeks we have been sending out ‘test’ OVIGEN parentage reports to flocks that participated in the genotyping research project during 2015 and 2016. The objective of this initial genotyping was to establish a database of genotyped parents. Breeders can now simply genotype the offspring of these animals to verify parentage and receive all the other benefits that will come with genomics into the future.

Plans for Sheep Genomics in 2017

  • Now that we have tested a number of parentage reports, we are ready to send all remaining reports to breeders. This will happen in January and the reports will be circulated by post. All the data contained in these reports will be incorporated into breeder genomic webscreens, which will be launched in the spring. These webscreens will also allow breeders to select which sheep that they wish to genotype for 2017.

Important Notes on Current Parentage Results

  • For some breeders the results are very straight forward, where all DNA samples were successfully genotyped and the parentage of relevant sheep in the flock were correctly verified. However for most breeders there will be some type of issue to be addressed. The most obvious issue may be a parentage mismatch based on the DNA. Breeders need to be aware that there may be a number of reasons for this so there is no need to despair. For example, the DNA sample may have been assigned to the wrong animal at sampling. Another potential reason might be that the ancestry information on the Sheep Ireland database may be incorrect – especially for flockbooks that do not host their database on the Sheep Ireland system.
  • The key message is that Sheep Ireland will work with all breeders to address any issues highlighted on the reports. Re-genotyping will be offered to all breeders where a result is in question. We ask breeders to remain patient while we establish the processes needed to deliver genotyping to all Irish ram breeders. OVIGEN is a four year research project, by the end of this four years, we aim to be delivering genomic €uro-Star breeding values to Irish ram breeders and have implemented a world class system to allow ram breeders to access this technology at the click of a mouse. We are well on track to achieving this.

Case Study – John Renehan, Johnstown, Co. Kilkenny; Violet Hill Flock

The latest of our scanning case studies looks at results from the Belclare flock of John Renehan. Again although the number of ewes is small, the results are extremely encouraging. Click here for a full summary