Newbridge Texels have been nominated for the most improved LambPlus flock in 2020. Based near Ballynahown, Co. Westmeath the Newbridge flock is owned by Enda Turley, pictured above with Lee Turley. The flock was established in 1999 and has been a member of the LambPlus since the programme’s introduction in 2009. In the past Enda focused on the terminal traits in both his pedigree and commercial flock but he realised that his flock was gone too terminal and in recent years he has taken a more balanced approach to breeding with more focus on the replacement traits of the animal. Enda noticed that mothering ability and milk yield were becoming an issue so he put a big focus on these traits while also maintaining the growth and carcass quality traits.
Enda uses the €uro-Star indexes to help him select replacements and he feels there is a growing demand for 4- and 5-star animals, especially from the younger generations.
Running his pedigree flock alongside his commercial flock allows Enda to see how his pedigree sheep perform in a commercial setting and has proven that the breeding decisions taken over the past number of years are performing well in a commercial setting.
Enda’s efforts to improve the genetics of his flock are evident when we compare the €uro-Star values of his 2020 born lambs to his 2017 born lambs. The 2020 born lambs had an average Replacement value of -€0.58 compared to -€2.20 in 2017, an improvement of €1.62. He also made significant gains on the Terminal index with the 2020 born lambs having an average Terminal index value of €0.92 compared to -€0.20 in 2017, an improvement of €1.12.
Data collection is another area where Enda is excelling with all data recording conducted on paper and uploaded to the sheep Ireland database that day, while it is all fresh in his mind. He does admit that performance recording on paper can be time consuming, so he hopes to switch over to recording data on the sheep Ireland App, stating that technology is the future of data recording.
Enda’s attention to detail and accuracy when recording data is demonstrated with his high DQI of 93%.
Recording lamb weights at the correct times is crucially important, according to Enda, not just to record good data and maintain a good DQI but also to manage the flock as well as possible. Data recording at lambing is also taken very seriously with every effort made to ensure accurate records of lambing difficulty, mothering ability and milk yield are recorded. The high level of data recording in the Newbridge flock as well as the inclusion of rams in the CPT has helped to improve index accuracies in the flock with the 2020 lamb crop having an average index accuracy of 55%.
The Newbridge flock has produced many top-quality rams over the years including Newbridge Dunmore (QYI2002026) (Top 6% Replacement, Top 5% Terminal) and Newbridge Cashel (QYI1901764) (Top 13% Replacement, Top 3% Terminal). Newbridge Cashel has the physical traits as well as the €uro-Stars and has been retained in the Newbridge flock as a stock ram. This ram is in the top 1% for days to slaughter with an excellent days to slaughter value of -15.33 days with an accuracy of 80%. Cashel has excellent accuracies of 69% and 71% on the Replacement and Terminal indexes, respectively. Cashel’s high index accuracies are helped by the fact he is genotyped, and parentage verified but is also influenced by the huge amount of data we have on his breeding as his sire is Derrylahan Big Balls, a former CPT sire with over 350 progeny on our database. Another stock ram in the Newbridge flock that is having a very positive influence is Castlebrock Bart (GDF1800013). Bart has a Terminal value of €1.67 (Top 6%) and a Replacement value of €0.03 (Top 22%). He has an excellent days to slaughter figure of -13 days (Top 2%) and an overall index accuracy of 66% on both indexes. The inclusion of high starred rams with high accuracies in the Newbridge ram team along with many years of selecting only the best female replacements is paying dividends when we look at the progress the flock has made over the past three years and Enda’s dedication to breeding and performance recording will ensure the continued improvement and success of the Newbridge flock in the years ahead.