You are currently viewing Weekly Update: 22/05/2015
One of Sheep Ireland's experienced technicians scanning a lamb for muscle and fat depth

Weekly Update: 22/05/2015

Ultrasound Scanning for Muscle and Backfat 2015

This scanning data remains a vital yet optional component of the LambPlus performance recording scheme. Ultrasound scanning is being used in our €uroStar evaluations in the absence of regular feeds of carcass data on the many bloodlines being performance recorded annually.


Capturing lamb carcass data

The challenge to capture reliable carcass data which can feed back into the evaluations of Pedigree ram bloodlines is not one unique to Ireland. The ICBF have made huge strides to addressing this challenge in the bovine evaluations and can benefit from one of the most advanced and integrated system of bovine date capture in the world. For the Irish sheep industry we are at the starting point of trying to emulate a similar process for the benefit of sheep breed improvement.

A robust sheep ID system is now in place in Ireland and this will help to lay the foundation for future reliable large scale data capture. There is still an inconsistency in the types of tags being presented to slaughter plants, with both EID and non-EID options available to all Irish farmers, for lambs destined for slaughter under 12 months of age. There is no doubt the EID tags support a more dependable method of capturing valuable data, although there are clearly other issues which must be respected, mainly the increased tag cost. The vast majority of lambs being presented in Irish slaughter plants are not tagged with EID tags. As a result most plants have made the understandable decision to hold off on making any significant investment in EID compatible equipment.


Using lamb carcass data

Another reality is that only carcass data from performance recording pedigree and commercial flocks can be used to any effect in the €uroStar evaluations. In the absence of lamb parentage data, the carcass information is not beneficial to the genetic evaluations. However the number of performance recorded (parentage recorded) lambs is increasing on an annual basis and with this in mind Sheep Ireland will continue to work with industry stakeholders to continue to build links with our meat processors to make full use of this fantastic data source.

For now, Ultrasound scanning of Muscle and Backfat remains a critical predictor of carcass traits in our Terminal Index. These carcass traits also play a role in our Replacement Index. In 2013 just over 60% of all the LambPlus flocks carried out Muscle and Backfat scanning in their flocks, with some breeds having a much higher percentage of its lambs recorder than others.


Breeders wishing to scan in 2015 – What to do?

Sheep Ireland is currently providing a subsidised Ultrasound Scanning service, and to avail of this service LambPlus breeders must contact Sheep Ireland before May 31st by texting the word “Yes” followed by your flock ID to 086 023 7658. For a complete rundown of what’s involved in our Muscle and Backfat scanning, visit and click on the Ultrasound Scanning link, which is on our homepage this week.


Sheep 2015 Preparations

On Wednesday evening, breed societies came together in Tullamore to discuss plans for this major flagship event for the sheep industry. The event is taking place on Saturday 20th June in the Teagasc research facility in Athenry. This event is completely free to the public and will promote all aspects of the Irish sheep industry. All breed societies will have a presence at the event, some with stands, others with stands and sheep shows.


Commercial sheep classes

The events organising committee are keen to promote the fact that there will be commercial sheep classes running on the day along with the Pedigree shows. There will be six commercial classes – 1. Fat lamb, 2. Carcass lamb, 3. Continental ewe lamb, 4. Non-continental ewe lamb, 5. Continental hogget ewe, 6. Noncontinental hogget ewe. Entries for these commercial classes will be accepted on the day of the event. An entry fee of €4.00 per entry will apply and there is very attractive prize money available for each class. All farmers are invited to take part in these classes.