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Weekly Update: 05/02/16

LambPlus Recording

Many breeders have now completed their intensive first batch of lambing and are now lambing down the ewes that repeated after AI and/or first service. As the pressure decreases breeders have begun to record lambs. The DQI rewards prompt recording of this very important data. The quicker this data is recorded the higher the accuracy. There is also a much higher likelihood for breeders to notice errors in the information as things are fresh in the mind. We will be sending breeders regular reminders to record lambing data over the coming weeks.

Teagasc National Sheep Conference 2016

This week Teagasc hosted two excellent conferences for lowland sheep farmers. The National Hill Sheep Conference is organised for February 17th in Donegal, the full details of which can found on the Teagasc website under the ‘events’ section.

There was four excellent speakers at this year’s Lowland Conference, two presentations were particularly relevant to Sheep Ireland. Noirin McHugh detailed recent developments with genetic improvement projects in Ireland while Alan Bohan presented his Teagasc Lamb Production Model which essentially can simulate the effect of different on farm scenarios to calculate predicted output/profit. Noirin’s presentation also included the last €uro-Star Index validation work – see below for a summary. Alan’s work will be a valuable tool for Irish sheep farmers but will also be a critical element of the national breed improvement programme as it will be used to update the current economic breeding values being used in our evaluation model.

Latest Index Validation

The slide below shows the data presented by Noirin McHugh at the latest National Sheep Conferences. The data used in this validation is from the Sheep Ireland CPT and from the Teagasc Athenry pedigree flocks. Data from 2013, 2014 & 2015 was included. The Replacement information is based on ewe performance using the ewes Index at the time of mating. The Terminal information is based on Sire performance (performance of their direct progeny), again using the Sires index at the time of mating.

In summary there are fairly significant differences in the performance of 5 Star and 1 Star animals. These differences are very clear on the Replacement traits which is hugely encouraging. On the Terminal side, of course we would like to see larger differences. Hopefully these will come in time. In recent years we have consistently selected very high Index rams to enter our CPT – perhaps this approach is reducing variation in our Terminal traits. This is something which we will look at going forward. Taking all differences into account the 5 Star ewes are 17% more efficient than their 1 Star counterparts – a significant difference

While the primary objective of the CPT is not to validate the €uro-Star Indices the data presented by Noirin is encouraging and shows that there are considerable differences in animal performance being predicted by the Indexes. It must be kept in mind that these differences are being predicted at relatively low accuracy and without any parentage validation. If we can increase our average accuracy % year on year and combine this with routine parentage verification using genomics then the potential of the genetic Indices will be maximised for everyone’s benefit.Validation National Sheep conf 2016