“Sheep Ireland” is the trading name of Sheep Database CLG and was formed in 2009 after a period of extensive consultation with the sheep industry. We were designated with the responsibility of increasing the rate of genetic gain in the Irish sheep sector by identifying and promoting the use of rams with more profitable and sustainable genetics. This is achieved by gathering performance data from the top rams in the country and accessing their strengths and weaknesses using a genetic evaluation which is updated weekly to include any new data. The results of these genetic evaluations are then displayed in sales catalogues and online in a simple one to five star rating system, allowing sheep farmers to make a more informed breeding decision when selecting their next stock ram.
The key events (listed in reverse chronological order (latest to earliest) in the history of Sheep Ireland include:
The Irish Suffolk sheep society establish their flockbook and the Sheep Ireland database. The society can now avail of the many benefits that come with this modern online system. This brings to eight the number of pedigree breed societies using the Sheep Ireland flockbook system to administer their flockbook – Belclare, Beltex, Charollais, Galway, Irish Suffolk Sheep Society, Rouge de l’Ouest, Texel & Vendeen. See the services available to these societies here.
Sheep Ireland started publishing across-breed evaluations, along farmers to compare the ebv’s of two rams of different breeds directly against each other. This was also the first time that carcass data was included in the evaluation making the “Days to Slaughter” index even more accurate at predicting how animals would perform in the future.
Breeders can now get their animals genotyped and receive parentage verification for their animals in under 4 weeks where the parents have also been genotyped. In cases where parentage was recorded incorrectly, in 42% of cases Sheep Ireland could predict the correct parent by cross referencing our DNA genotype bank looking for matches. A massive step forward for the industry.
The Irish Charollais flockbook move their flockbook to the Sheep Ireland database. The society can now avail of the many benefits that come with this modern online system. This brings to seven the number of pedigree breed societies using the Sheep Ireland flockbook system to administer their flockbook – Belclare, Beltex, Charollais, Galway, Rouge de l’Ouest, Texel & Vendeen. See the services available to these societies here.
Sheep Ireland launch our LambPlus app. Going forward this app will greatly aid the entry of performance recording data onto the Sheep Ireland database. The app is available via the App Store and Google Play Store. This app essentially acts as an electronic lambing notebook and can be paired via bluetooth with an EID tag reader.
The number of performance recording pedigree breeders involved in LambPlus has reached its highest number on record. Over 700 breeders are now signed up to performance record their flocks in 2018.
Irish Pedigree ram breeders can now order genotypes for their sheep via the Sheep Ireland website. These genotypes will initially be heavily subsidised by the OVIGEN research project.
The first results of OVIGEN genotyping are released to pedigree ram breeders that participated in the project. At this point over 13,500 pedigree sheep have been genotyped for ram breeders. Parentage verification reports form the basis of these first results.
The latest €uroStar index validation data is presented to pedigree ram breeders over the course of five on-farm workshops around Ireland. The validation show significant positive differences between high and low index animals in both Terminal and Maternal traits.
OVIGEN is launched. This research project involving Teagasc (lead by Noirin McHugh), UCD and Sheep Ireland aims to establish genomic breeding values for Irish pedigree ram breeders.
LambPlus membership reaches it highest level. There are now more performance recording ram breeders in Ireland than ever before. In total across all the performance breeds, there are over 500 LambPlus flocks.
The new Sheep Ireland website is launched. This new website hosts a suite of new data recording and data reporting webscreens for LambPlus users. The new website also offers a flockbook management system to Irish sheep breed societies.
The Sheep Technology Adoption Programme is launched by the Department of Agriculture. Sheep Ireland will play a major role in this programme which encourages participation in sheep discussion groups while also requiring participants to undertake a number of farm tasks. These farm tasks make use of the best technologies available to sheep farmers in Ireland. The use of a Sheep Ireland performance recorded ram will be a compulsory task for all STAP participants (subject to some Terms & Conditions)
Introduction of an Industry contribution to help continue the Sheep Ireland breed improvement programme. See this statement from the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney.
This month also marks the very first LambPlus ram sale in Cilin Hill Mart, Co. Kilkenny. This ram sale is open to all LambPlus breeders and aims to become a source of the very best sheep genetics available to the Irish sheep Industry.
Sheep Database Ltd, trading as Sheep Ireland commenced operations in 2009 following a plan based on twenty strategic priorities established in 2008. Key developments in 2009 included:
- Creation of the Sheep Ireland database.
- Establishment of LambPlus® the performance recording scheme for ram breeders.
- Formation of the maternal lamb producers (MALP) program.
- Establishment of breeding objectives and selection criteria for sheep in Ireland.
- Formation of the central progeny test (CPT) with artificial insemination in four contracted flocks.
October to December 2008
The ICBF team with considerable help from Timothy Byrne of AbacusBio Ltd proceeded to establish Sheep Ireland, form Sheep Database Ltd, and to establish LambPlus as the performance recording service for sheep flocks. A unique lifetime identification system for participating flocks based on the official NSIS identification was agreed with DAFF. Timelines and performance recording protocols were developed. Flocks using the PSBIP service provided by DAFF in 2008 were invited to join LambPlus for 2009. Flock Books were consulted on the features of LambPlus and the Sheep Ireland database and invited to express an interest in future participation. Briefings were provided to the Interim Sheep Board, a series of Teagasc meetings with sheep farmers and to the Charollais Society.
Sheep Database Limited was incorporated on the 3rd of December 2008 and was granted charitable status exemption on 18th June 2009.
A strategy project team lead by Dr Peter Amer, commissioned by the Interim Sheep Board, completed a review of sheep breeding in Ireland and filed its report. The Interim Sheep Board adopted, with minor modification the twenty recommendations contained in the Strategy Project Team report.
First meeting of the Interim Sheep Board. The Interim Sheep Board was formed under the Chairmanship of Ignatius Byrne of DAFF, and included six other members: Henry Burns (IFA), Kevin Kinsella (IFA), and James Brosnan (ICMSA) representing farmers and John Joyce, Ann Murphy and Larry Barrett representing breeders. Oliver Molloy (DAFF) was appointed as Secretary. Dr Brian Wickham, the Chief Executive of ICBF, reported to the Interim Sheep Board.
The Sheep Strategy Implementation Group, also chaired by John Malone reported on progress with implementation of the recommendations of the Sheep Industry Development Strategy and the funding arrangement for involving ICBF is sheep breeding.
The development of a proposal from ICBF for sheep breeding and sheep information. This proposal identified the need for an industry based decision making structure and a database to meet the information needs of the sheep breeding sector and the wider industry. It proposed a way forward for sheep breeding in Ireland along similar lines to that achieved by ICBF for cattle breeding.
Completion of the Sheep Industry Development Strategy under the Chairmanship of John Malone. This group recommended that ICBF become involved in sheep breeding.