The Euro-Star Index is a breeding index designed to aid sheep farmers in the selection of more profitable breeding animals.
Euro-Star Indexs quantify the genetic component of an animal’s performance across all traits of importance for Irish sheep farmers.
Overall Indexs in Sheep
There are two Euro-Star Indexs;
- Replacement Index
- Terminal Index.
This is to facilitate the use of Euro-Star Indexs to maximize the use of the correct genetics for the right purpose. Some farmers may breed their replacements, in which case the Replacement Index is most relevant. Other farmers may sell all of their progeny at weaning or take them through to slaughter, in which case the Terminal Index is most relevant.
If a farmer desires an animal to breed both replacement females and factory lambs, then they should select a ram based on this index. The bulk of this index is a combination of Lamb Survivability, Days to Slaughter, No. of lambs born & Daughter’s milk. The € value beside the index represents the difference in profit that each lamb bred from this animal will have. This € value is an across-breed value, so different breeds can be compared to each other.
If a farmer desires a ram to breed only factory lambs then they should select an animal based on this index. The bulk of this index is a combination of Lamb Survivability and Days to Slaughter and Carcass traits. The € value beside the index represents the difference in profit that each lamb bred from this animal will have. This € value is an across-breed value, so different breeds can be compared to each other.
This is the 2023 Relative emphasis for each index (table 1).
The star rating system (Table 2. 1-5 stars) was incorporated into the Euro-Star Index to make it easier for farmers to interpret; 5 stars being very good, 1 star being poor. This is the same concept used to display beef cattle evaluations in Ireland. This concept has been largely successful in its adoption by the industry, but there are some important points to remember.
Within breed stars rank an animal only against other animals within its own breed, ranking each trait in 20% groupings. The higher the stars, the higher the predicted profitability from that animal within the breed in question.
Breeders record information (Figure 1) about the ewe and lamb(s) at lambing, weighing, health recording, mating and pregnancy scanning, including creating parentage information and recording some performance traits on the ewe and the lamb(s).
Figure 1. The LambPlus recording Timeline highlights which data is recorded at each point of the year.
Each flock receives a flock Data Quality Index (DQI) score. This rates each flock on the quality, quantity and timeliness of the data submitted to Sheep Ireland over the previous year. Farmers are provided with feedback specific to their flock on which areas they should focus on to improve their data quality.