Sheep Ireland have published the first genetic evaluation for the 2021 season. This is the earliest evaluation publication we have provided to date. It is critical that breeders view this early genetic evaluation with a high degree of caution given the fact that there is still a very large volume of 2021 lambing data yet to be added to the database. To date almost 15,000 2021 born lambs have been recorded on the database. The vast majority of these lambs are pedigree. To have data included for genetic evaluations each week, your data needs to be inputted to the database prior to Monday morning to be included in that weeks evaluation run. If this deadline is missed, your data will be included in the evaluation run the following week. For example, if you have recorded weights over the weekend, they need to be inputted to the database prior to Monday morning to be included in your most up to date evaluation of your animals.
Commercial farm data
Over half of the data used in the Sheep Ireland genetic evaluations now originates from commercial sheep farms. The main sources of this commercial farm data are the Sheep Ireland central progeny test flocks, Teagasc Better Farm flocks involved in the OviData project, Teagasc research flocks, with the remainder coming from independent commercial farmers performance recording their flocks. The majority of this commercial farm data has not yet entered the Sheep Ireland database given that most of them are mid-season, March lambing flocks. This data has the potential to significantly impact the genetic evaluations of pedigree bloodlines depending on their use across our network of performance recording commercial flocks.
Why do Sheep Ireland publish early genetic evaluations?
While these early genetic evaluations are highly likely to change as more lambing and other data is recorded throughout the year, they can provide a guide for early lambing breeders interested in making early culling decisions for the Easter lamb trade. This year Ramadan begins on April 13th and the demand for spring lamb is likely to present favourable market conditions for early lambing flocks with suitable lambs. On annual basis Sheep Ireland receives numerous requests to provide an early evaluation to aid in culling decisions and this evaluation is in response to these repeated requests and to facilitate these breeders. Again, Sheep Ireland cannot over-emphasis the need to view these early evaluations with caution as there is still a significant amount of lambing data yet to be recorded by breeders.
Improvements to the €uroStar evaluations for 2021
Sheep Ireland are continually working to improve the genetic evaluations available to Irish sheep farmers with a view to maximising the industries rate of genetic progress. 2021 is no different with a number of important updates made to the genetic evaluation. The full details of these improvements will be communicated to ram breeders and other industry stakeholders in the coming weeks.