Weekly Update: 19/05/17

Ultrasound Scanning (Muscle and BackFat) 2017

To book a place for Ultrasound Scanning, it is necessary to text the word ‘Scanning’ to 089- 4577665 before our deadline of Monday 22nd May. Sheep Ireland technicians are already out scanning flocks and we intend to get flocks scanned as quickly as possible, well in advance of the upcoming ram sale season. There are two major benefits to this:

  1. Ensuring that the breeders investment in scanning is being maximised and reflected in the €uro-Star evaluations in time for the ram sales, but more importantly
  2. The information being provided to the ram buyer is the best possible information available on the day of the ram sale

When is the Ideal Time to Scan My Lambs?

This is a question that we get asked quite often and many breeders are of the opinion, that the later in life that lambs are scanned the better. This is not true. An older animal, of course will likely weigh heavier and scan a higher muscle score than a younger animal. However the genetic evaluation will adjust all measurements for the age of the animal. The desired age range to scan lambs is between 120 and 180 days of age, with 150 being the ideal age. All flocks will have a range of ages depending on their lambing spread, but breeders should be aware of the fact that there is no benefit to delaying scanning

What is a Good Ultrasound Muscle Scan for a Lamb?

  • This is another question which we get asked regularly. All flocks differ in management. The ultrasound scans recorded by a ram breeder who focuses on producing rams from grass, cannot be directly compared to a ram breeder who heavily feeds their lambs with concentrates. The highest Ultrasound scan on these breeder’s flocks will be very different figures, i.e. the grass reared lambs will scan much lower on average. This does not mean that they are genetically inferior and this is precisely why genetic evaluations are required to fairly compare the performance of these two flocks.
Sheep Ireland Technicians Michael O’ Neil (Mayo) and James Kelly (Kildare) in action.
  • We have often been asked to display the raw Ultrasound muscle scores of individual animals on the €uro-Star catalogues. This is something we will never do, as this raw figure is not adjusted for the age of the animal at scanning, sex, breed, rearing type (single/twin/trip/quad/pet), management system, etc., etc. Only the genetic evaluation can allow for all of these variables

OVIGEN – Next Phase of Sheep Genomics

  • We would like to remind all LambPlus breeders that it is now possible to order genotypes for purebred sheep via the Sheep Ireland online web screens. As has been detailed in previous weekly updates, this genotyping is being made available in 2017 at a highly subsidised rate, which will hopefully entice breeders to continue genotyping their breeding animals, thus maintaining a full flock of genotyped ewes and breeding rams. Click here for more information on what’s involved.
  • We are receiving a high level of genotype orders from breeders at the moment through our new online screens. The first DNA sampling tags hit farms this week, so it will be full steam ahead from this point forward. Breeders who order genotypes and DNA tags are encouraged to return them as soon as possible. Quick return of samples will allow for quick turnaround of results. Our next batch of DNA samples will be sent for genotyping in the next two weeks, so by ensuring that samples are returned in advance of this, breeders will give themselves the greatest chance of receiving results back in advance of the 2017 ram sale season.
DNA tag packs like this are currently being sent to OVIGEN
breeders ordering genotypes.