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Weekly Update: 18/09/2015

Meeting with breed society representatives

This week Sheep Ireland held their regular board meeting. In advance of this board meeting, we invited the representatives of all sheep breed societies to come together. This meeting was very well attended with most sheep breeds represented. The purpose of this breed society meeting was to facilitate greater interaction between those involved in the running of Sheep Ireland (board and employees) and the breed societies involved in LambPlus. Sheep Ireland presented updates on a number of important matters including OVIGEN, LambPlus recording, the Data Quality Index, linkage and plans for the CPT for 2015.

Donagh Berry delivered some important messages on OVIGEN and the major potential advantages that genomics can offer sheep breed societies into the future. The key message was that the OVIGEN project has a set amount of funding available for genotyping Irish pedigree sheep. OVIGEN will enable some breed societies to implement genomics without incurring excessive costs. By genotyping adult animals, OVIGEN will lay the foundations for LambPlus pedigree breeders to carry on genotyping pedigree lambs. Apart from the benefits to the €uroStar evaluations, breed societies will benefit from accurate parentage identification which will benefit everyone involved in sheep breeding.

The recently launched online Data Quality Index for every LambPlus flock was also detailed to those present and discussed in association with the subject of genetic linkage across the breed improvement programme. CPT ram selection was another subject which Sheep Ireland sought some assistance and involvement from each breed. At present Sheep Ireland are assembling a possible ram list for the 2015 CPT AI. 2,200 ewes will be AI’d from Oct 12th to Oct 20th this year. The CPT currently has a number of key objectives including, increasing genetic linkage and helping to ‘prove’ high starred rams across the breeds involved. Sheep Ireland are cognisant that these objectives need to be achieved using rams that are physically correct in every way and the greater involvement by breed societies in CPT ram selection was invited.

Among some of the issues raised by breed societies in the meeting included inadequate reporting of CPT ram performance and inadequate reporting of the issues being discussed at board level. Sheep Ireland committed to addressing these issues as soon as possible.

We would like to thank all those who attended this very productive meeting. A number of actions have been noted by Sheep Ireland and these will be acted upon. It was agreed by all in attendance that these meetings should now become a more regular occurrence, taking place at least every six months, with the option to organise more regular meetings going forward if deemed necessary. The next meeting is set for December and will include a greater focus on the genetic evaluations and how they work.


National Ploughing Championships 2015

Sheep Ireland will be in attendance at the ploughing championships again this year. We will be found at the Irish Farmers Journal stand partaking in the livestock demonstration stand is association with the ICBF and Bord Bia. This a great event which attracts major crowds daily. We will have some 2015 born CPT lambs from the farm of John Large, Gortnahoe, Co. Tipperary on display at the stand and as the theme of the livestock demo is finishing, we will be concentration on the benefits of using the Days to Slaughter index when selecting breeding rams.

See below some of the lambs that will be present at the ploughing. These are the progeny from sires with high and low Days to Slaughter Indices. The two sires are Texel and the average weight difference between both sets of progeny at weaning was 3kgs liveweight.

Texel ewe lamb

Sheep in a race