How confident can we be with the info behind the €urostars and what is Sheep Ireland doing to monitor it?
The Data Quality Index (DQI) is a significant measure that has been implemented to ensure the highest standard of data integrity. Sheep Ireland does not publish €uroStar indexes for breeders where their DQI is lower than 40%. The minimum DQI required for the annual Sheep Ireland multibreed ram sale in Tullamore is 75%.
Flock visits are another important measure introduced by Sheep Ireland since 2019. During the flock visits a Sheep Ireland technician gives one to one advice on data collection as well as allowing Sheep Ireland to validate previously submitted data by the breeder, and where issues are identified action is then taken. Sheep Ireland implemented robust measures over the last number of years to ensure the integrity of data flowing into the genetic evaluations. Weight brackets have been implemented and tailored to the type and breed of animal that weights are being entered for. Weight reports are generated, flagging any animals that have a significant loss or gain in weight. A follow up with breeders is conducted to establish what caused this loss or gain in weight.
Similarly, other automated reports are generated from other information inputted and database checks are analysed for inconsistencies. Several breeders have been removed since 2019 as the identified inconsistencies could not be satisfactorily explained.
What is the DQI and why it is important?
The Data Quality Index (DQI) scores LambPlus flocks on the quality, quantity, and timeliness of their data recording throughout the year. The DQI appears as a % figure on all €uroStar sale catalogues, and on the Sheep Ireland online breeder and ram search found at www.sheep.ie.
On a sales catalogue, as seen below, the DQI is displayed in brackets after the owners name.
The three main elements of the DQI are as follows;
- Quality – Does the data demonstrate realistic variation across the various traits recorded, ie lamb mortality, lambing difficulty, lamb weights etc. For all traits, there are expected levels of variance and these are a great indicator of data quality.
- Quantity – Has the breeder recorded all the required data for their flock, ie lambing information for all ewes, weights for all lambs born etc. Complete data recording is beneficial to the users of the €uroStars as it maximises the accuracy % of the indexes.
- Timeliness – Has the breeder submitted their data to Sheep Ireland in a prompt manner. The prompt entry of data to Sheep Ireland reduces the risk of data error and/or loss. Late data entry has the potential to cause index movements coming into the ram sale season, which is very undesirable for both ram breeders and ram buyers alike. A high DQI is an indicator that the breeder in question is more engaged in performance recording and this has been demonstrated in practice with high DQI breeders making more genetic gain on both the Replacement and Terminal Index than low DQI flocks.
The DQI scores breeders from 0 – 100%. A guide for ram purchasers on DQI scores is as follows;
- DQI above 90% is excellent
- DQI above 80% is very good
- DQI above 70% is good
- DQI above 60% is average