In 2016 a lamb quality score (LQS) was collected on over 2000 central progeny test lambs when they were between 60 -100 days of off age. The LQS is a visual appreciation of the overall quality of the lamb (score 1 = poor quality to 5 = excellent) by the farmer and takes multiple traits into account including weight, size, confirmation, and length of the animal as well as overall lamb carcass quality. Those lambs were then followed through to slaughter and their age at that point was recorded.
This graph presents the average age at slaughter per LQS class. Very few animals were recorded as LQS 1, this is likely to be the reason they out preformed the LQS 2 lambs in this case, but with more records this would be expected to rectify. Even after taking this into account there is still a margin of 107.5 days between the average ages of LQS 1 and LQS 5 lambs by the time they were deemed to be fit for slaughter for the farmer, demonstrating that farmers have the ability to accurately differentiate between their top quality and lowest quality carcass lambs between 60 and 100 days of age.
Sheep Ireland will now be investigating the benefits of including such a score in the genetic evaluations and what effect it would have in increasing the accuracy of the evaluations.