The third and final nominee for the Highest achieving LamPlus Flock 2020 is Duhallow Charollais owned by Maria and John Philpott. This nomination is very special due to the fact the Duhallow flock was nominated for the most improved flock award in 2019 and have pushed on further this year to be nominated for the highest achieving flock. Established in 2006 near Kanturk in Co. Cork the flock has been a member of the LambPlus programme since 2009. Maria and John take great care with the breeding decisions they make, and they are continually fine tuning the breeding plan with the physical characteristics of the animal taking preference followed closely by €uro-Stars.
The focus in the Duhallow flock is to breed rams that will perform well in a commercial flock.
When selecting breeding animals both the Replacement index and the Terminal index are considered with special attention paid to the days to slaughter and daughter’s milk sub-indexes. Mothering ability is also recorded in the Duhallow flock with replacements only kept from ewes who were very good mothers. The careful selection of animals with high genetic merit has resulted in the 2020 lamb crop from Duhallow Charollais having an average €uro-Star value of €2.98 (€2.22 in 2019) on the Replacement index and an average €uro-Star value of €2.15 (€1.19 in 2019) on the Terminal index.
Data recording has improved over the past few years with efforts being made to improve the number and accuracy of lamb weights recorded and although all data was recorded in previous years greater efforts have been made to get this data logged on the Sheep Ireland data base more promptly.
The additional effort to get data recorded in a timely fashion has resulted in the flock DQI increasing from 76% in 2019 to a very impressive 93% in 2020.
All the ewes in the Duhallow flock are naturally mated and all aspects of flock management aims to produce functional sheep as naturally as possible. To improve flock linkage and animal accuracies Maria and John made their stock rams available to the CPT programme in 2018 and 2019 (Lisfuncheon Edward) and in 2020 (Rockdale Venga Boy) was involved in the CPT programme. The improved data collection and inclusion of a stock rams in the CPT have both helped the Duhallow flock to achieve an average index accuracy of 48%.
Lisfuncheon Edward has been a very influential sire in the Duhallow flock having sired a large proportion of the breeding ewes currently in the flock. The reason for Lisfuncheon Edward’s use as a stock ram to produce females can be seen from his €uro-Star figures of €4.94 (Top 1%) on the Replacement index and €2.70 on the Terminal index (Top 2%). Edward’s inclusion in the CPT also means he has high index accuracies of 83% and 86% on the Replacement and Terminal indexes, respectively. Edward has sired some top-quality rams for Maria and John including C6217011 (Top 1% Replacement, Top 3% Terminal), C6218022 (Top 1% Replacement, Top 4% Terminal), and C6219022 (Top 1% Replacement, Top 2% Terminal).
To ensure the future success of the flock some new blood has also been added to the Duhallow flock in the form of two new stock rams purchased in 2020. Rockdale Venga Boy (H2820044) was purchased at the Premier sale in Tullow and stood out due to his excellent physical attributes as well as having the Stars to match. Venga Boy is in the top 2% of Charollais on the Replacement index and the top 1% on the Terminal index. This ram has an excellent days to slaughter figure of -21 days (Top 1%) as well as having 65% and 64% accuracy on the Replacement and Terminal indexes, respectively. Venga Boy was made available to the CPT for mating in 2020 and his progeny will be evaluated across the four CPT flocks in 2021. Another ram (J1720003) was purchased in 2020 from the Tomgarrow Flock in Wexford, he also has excellent €uro-Star figures placing him in the top 3% of Charollais on the Replacement index and the top 1% on the Terminal index. This ram also has an excellent days to slaughter figure of -24 days (Top 1%) as well as having 58% accuracy on both indexes. The commitment to performance recording, careful selection of breeding females and the purchase of top-quality stock rams will ensure the success of the Duhallow flock for many years to come.
The overall winner of the highest achieving LambPlus flock will be announced in late February and will receive a cash prize of €1,000, an engraved trophy and bragging rights for the year ahead. The two other finalists will receive a cash prize of €500 and a framed award. The LambPlus awards are kindly sponsored by FBD.