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Sheep Ireland Breeding conference and Farm Walk

Sheep Ireland, in conjunction with SMARTER (, will be hosting a Breeding Conference, LambPlus Awards, and Farm walk on July 12th, 2022. The event is aimed at Industry stakeholders, Pedigree Breeders and Sheep Farmers.

The event is free, but registration is required. Please click here to register.

The Breeding Conference

Chaired by Dr Donagh Berry

Dr Donagh Berry from Teagasc will open and Chair the event. Donagh has vast international experience in genetics, genomics and breeding across the Dairy, Beef and Sheep industries and is also a work package Leader for the SMARTER research project consortium. SMARTER aims to develop and deploy innovative strategies to improve Resilience and Efficiency (R&E) related traits in sheep and goats across all participating countries around the world. It will also focus on developing accurate genomic predictions for R&E traits in different environments across different breeds and populations.

Our first speaker is Sam Boon.  Sam leads the service delivery of Signet Breeding Evaluations (Sheep Ireland equivalent in the UK) to 1000 pedigree sheep and beef producers. He has additional responsibility within the AHDB team for breeding-related technology transfer, business development and genetic research. Sam will discuss the UK sheep industry, the strengths and weaknesses of the UK breed improvement programme and what areas he thinks they will focus on in the next five to ten years.

Our second speaker is Dr Thierry Pabiou. Thierry is in charge of implementing changes to the Irish national sheep evaluations each year and running them each week to incorporate any new data that became available in the previous week. He will be discussing what is required to produce a genetic evaluation, how the Star rating system works and how a rams breeding value can remain unchanged, yet his star rating can change.

Our third and final speaker is Dr Noirin McHugh. Noirin is well-known throughout the Sheep Industry for her leading research on breeding and genetics. She will present the challenges for the Sheep industry in meeting its GHG reduction targets and how breeding can contribute to the solution. In Ireland, some world-leading research is underway in this field, and the initial results show some positive results.

Panel Discussion

There will be a follow-up panel discussion with all of the speakers. This discussion will focus on how to maximise the power of genetics and EBV’s for the challenges that lie ahead and welcome questions from the floor.

The LambPlus Awards sponsored by FBD

These awards are designed to recognise flocks driving the industry in the correct direction. Sheep Ireland acknowledges that without breeder engagement, we could have the best evaluations in the world, but if breeders are not making breeding decisions based on them, then the programme would be futile. There will be two awards, the first is for the Most Improved LambPlus Flock, with the main prize for the Top LambPlus Flock. These awards help to recognise the effort that these flocks go to improve the genetics of their flocks and help to highlight them as champions of breed improvement in the industry.

Farm Walk

A farm walk will take after lunch on the Central Progeny Test (CPT) flock of John Large, only 15 minutes via shuttle from the Hotel. The farm walk will allow attendees to see the impact of genetics with their own eyes. All the sheep in the CPT are fully recorded parentage and performance recorded, with all their data flowing back in the national genetic evaluations. The format of the Irish CPT is relatively unique internationally in that replacement females are retained from the tested sires as well. We will see why this is important and get the CPT farmers’ first-hand experience of genetic improvement.

There will also be stands demonstrating how to collect and record health information for the genetic evaluations, collecting data via the Free Sheep Ireland App, Validating the traits in the €uroStars, Green House Gas research, Hill store lamb finishing, The power of genomics and OviFEC. OviFEC is a new research project that has the aim of developing ebv’s for Worm resistance in Sheep.

This is a free event, but registration is required. Click here to register for free now.

We want to thank our sponsors. This conference and farm walk is sponsored by SMARTER (, and the LambPlus Awards are sponsored by FBD.

We would like to also thank the DAFM for their continued support of the National Sheep Breed Improvement Programme.