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All you need to know about the Genotyped Ram action in the SIS

Find out all about the Sheep Improvement Scheme Genotyped Ram action by checking the following FAQs.

1.    When do I need to complete the Genotyped Ram task?

All participants are required to complete the Genotyped Ram action at least once during the first three years of the scheme. You would have selected the year you wanted to complete the task when you signed up for the scheme.
This information can be found by logging on to your account, clicking on to ‘Ag Schemes – Sheep Improvement Scheme’. This will present a pop-up box with contact details for the Department. When you close this there will be an applications list detailing your application. There are three dots to the right of this information and clicking on this will trigger another pop-up giving the option to view your application which states your reference number and year you opted to purchase a ram.

2.    How do I complete the task?

In order to complete the Task the ram must be purchased in the year of the Task, and have been SIS eligible at the time of purchase.

3.    What is an SIS Eligible Ram?

An SIS Eligible Ram is a ram that has been genomically tested via the Sheep Ireland Genomic service and is a Scrapie Type 1,2 or 3. On top of this, there is additional criteria, depending on whether the flock is designated as a Hill flock or a Lowland flock.
For lowland flocks, the ram must also be 4 or 5 Stars on the Replacement or Terminal Index based on a Genomic Evaluation. Only rams that were bred by or once owed by LambPlus flocks can qualify. The Ram must be a purebred ram or an F1 cross (Two purebred parents from different Breeds).
For Hill flocks, the ram must be DNA sire verified by Sheep Ireland. This only applies to Blackface Mountain and Cheviot Type rams. Hill flocks can also purchase rams that meet the lowland criteria.

4.    How often do I need to buy an SIS Eligible Ram?

Farmers that have a reference number of greater than 150 ewes will need to complete the action twice, you can see what years you selected via your account (see Question one for details on how to do this).

5.    Where can I find scheme-eligible rams and what do I need to check to ensure they are eligible?

Breeders will be marketing rams through society and general mart sales and also in direct farm sales. The image below shows the way Rams will be listed in catalogue sales. The box in the top right of the listing will show if the ram has been genotyped and is scheme eligible. Buyers should look out for the green tick and words ‘SIS: Yes’. Where rams are included in a sale catalogue and purchased on the day of the sale then this is taken as proof that the ram is eligible on that day.

Where rams are being purchased through sales and there are no catalogues or purchased directly from the farm then the latest information on that ram can be obtained from the Ramsearch facility;  This is an excellent resource that allows you to search by breed, county etc. When you click on a ram through the search facility scheme eligibility will be shown through a green box and a tick for SIS as seen in Figure 2.   

6.    Will there be enough Rams available to meet demand?

Sheep Ireland is working closely with breeders and hill breeding groups to maximise the number of eligible rams available each year. We are actively encouraging breeders of lowland rams to genotype all the 4 and 5 Star rams to maximise the numbers eligible for the scheme. On the Hill sector, Sheep Ireland are working closely with hill sheep breeds and organising DNA collection days. Hill ram breeders should contact their breeding group about their next DNA collection day. As sheep producers start to source rams this will also entice breeders who have not carried out genotyping to date to act.

7.    Do I have to purchase a genotyped ram lamb or will hogget or older rams suffice?

There is no age limit on rams as long as they satisfy the scheme requirements on the day of purchase.

8.    I always purchase four and five-star rams and have five rams in my flock. If I genotype one of these will they satisfy the scheme requirements?

No. Rams already in your flock will not suffice for you. As per the terms and conditions of the scheme, a ram must be purchased in the year that you selected and be SIS eligible on the date of purchase.

9.    I am selling a my three-year-old stock ram that is four -star on the terminal index on Could I genotype this rams to make them SIS Eligible or is it only pedigree breeders that can produce these rams? What is the cost of this?

Yes, provided the rams were performance recorded through LambPlus, any producer can genotype sheep from their flock. If the ram is rated as a four or five star, and Scrapie Type 1/2/3 following the genotyping and genomic evaluation, on the date of sale they will be deemed eligible for the scheme. The cost of genotyping is €24.60 per animal. Contact [email protected] if this is something you would like to do. Please provide the full tag number of the ram you would like to get genotyped, as well as your Full name, address, Eircode, mobile number and Herd number. Sheep Ireland will then get in touch regarding your next steps.

10.  What proof do I need to submit to the Department to show that I have purchased the required ram?

There is no requirement to send any documentation to the Department. If a flock is inspected then you must be in a position to show that you purchased an eligible ram. The dispatch document proves that you purchased the ram. To prove that the ram was eligible, a sales catalogue for the date the animal was purchased is one option as information in the catalogue is extracted from the Sheep Ireland database. Some breeders or purchasers of rams are screenshotting or printing the ram’s genetic evaluation on the date of purchase from the research. As long as you can prove you purchased the ram on a particular date you will be to check the eligibility of the ram on that date on the Sheep Ireland Ramsearch facility.

11.  If a ram is SIS eligible for me this year, am I guaranteed the ram will be eligible for another farmer if I sell him next year ?

No. The terms and conditions of the Sheep Improvement Scheme relate to the star rating on the day the animal is purchased, and star rating can change over time. For example, if a genotyped ram is purchased as a five-star on 20 July 2023 then the ram will satisfy the flock’s requirement for 2023. If that ram drops to a three-star ram in 2024 and was sold in 2024 then it would not be eligible for the scheme. However, If the ram was rated as a three-star following genotyping and subsequently increased to a four or five-star in subsequent evaluations then they would be eligible to meet the scheme requirements for a new purchaser.

12.  Can two farmers claim the same ram in the same year?

Yes. As long as the Ram was SIS eligible on the date of purchase and the ram is used in the flock, he can then be sold to another flock at a later date who is lambing later in the season. The ram must still be SIS eligible on the second purchase date, and this can be checked on

13.  Is there a minimum length of time that a ram must be maintained?

There is no minimum length of time specified in the terms and conditions. The terms and conditions state that a ram must be purchased for use in the flock. Once this requirement has passed then the ram can be sold if you wish to do so.  

14. How often does a rams’ genetic evaluation change?

Genetic evaluations take place on a weekly basis so there is a chance that a ram’s evaluation could change from week to week. It is therefore important to check the status of rams on the Sheep Ireland ram search;, on the date of purchase if it is not printed in a sale catalogue on that day.

15. Are all rams listed on the ramsearch facility available for sale?

The filter search only displays Ram Lambs or Hogget’s that are recorded as being in the flock they were born in. Once a ram is sold or dies, a breeder will remove this ram from the flock, and this will remove them from the filter search. All performance-recorded rams can still be subsequently found by using the filter ‘Search by ID’ but rams which have been sold should be removed from the active listing.

16.  Can I change the year of the Genotyped Ram action?

Where you experience SIS Eligible ram availability issues, you should contact the SIS unit at DAFM to request to change your year.