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Weekly Update: 06/02/2015


  • This week, information letters have been circulated to all LambPlus breeders informing them of plans for this research project. We plan to visit our first pedigree flocks next week. We will use these early visits to test our data collection procedures and make sure our flock visits are as efficient as possible. Below details the data we plan to collect from each flock we visit during the spring.
    • DNA sample from each ewe and ram – Using an ear punch which will collect an ear tissue sample
    • Ewe and lamb weights
    • Ewe condition scores
    • Lamb visual scores
    • Ewe mastitis incidence
    • Ewe and lamb dag scores                       This data will contribute to the development of a new Health trait
    • Ewe and lamb lameness scores


  • What breeds will be involved in Ovigen?
    • To deliver any benefit to a breed, genomics requires a number of critical ingredients. The main ingredient is a solid foundation of performance data for that breed. Development of genomic genetic evaluations is not possible without this foundation.
    • The breeds within Ireland that have established a sufficient foundation of performance recording up to this point in time are as follows: Texel, Suffolk, Charollais, Belclare and Vendeen. These are currently the only breeds with sufficient performance data to justify the cost of genotyping as part of Ovigen.


  • Will any other breeds be included in this research?
    • DNA samples are currently being collected from a host of other Irish sheep breeds that are performance recording with Sheep Ireland in lower numbers, than the five breeds mentioned above. This process will allow us to determine how genetically related these other breeds are to the five strongest performance recording breeds. In the absence of sufficient performance recording data, other breeds may be included in Ovigen based on their relatedness to the five strongest recording breeds.


Ultrasound Muscle and Fat scanning 2015

  • Preparations for our 2015 scanning season are already underway and on Tuesday of this week our scanning technicians spent a day together to calibrate their scanning technique. A group of finished commercial lambs were used for the day. Each of the technicians scanned the group of lambs separately and lambs were presented randomly. The measurements recorded by each of the technicians will now be analysed.


  • This group of lambs were slaughtered the day after our Ultrasound scanning and were followed through the slaughter process to ensure maximum accuracy in terms of animal identification through the grading process. We will now analyse our scanning data and assess the correlation between this data and the actual carcase data recorded in the meat plant.


MALP and CPT meetings next week

  • Each year in advance of the busy lambing season, we meet with our MALP and CPT flocks to discuss all aspects of each respective programme. These meetings will be taking place next week.