Weekly Update: 23/09/16

Weekly Update: 23/09/16

Ploughing 2016

This year’s ploughing championships was yet another record breaking event. For the duration of the three
days, Sheep Ireland took part in the Irish Farmers Journal livestock demonstration. This demonstration was located right in the heart of the ploughing site and attracted huge crowds each day.

The livestock demo focused on Sucklers, Beef, Dairy and of course Sheep. In the sheep demo Sheep Ireland presented ewe lambs from the flock of CPT farmer Andrew Moloney, Edenderry, Co. Offaly and two Lanark Blackface Mountain rams from the flock of Michael Ketch from Stradbally, Co. Waterford. The discussion on both groups of stock centred around the €uroStar evaluations and the benefits available to Irish sheep farmers from using high €uroStar Index breeding rams.

We met a huge number of sheep farmers throughout the three days and hopefully helped to educate and convince them of the merits of using genetic evaluations to help select more profitable breeding stock.

CPT AI 2016

Another season of CPT AI is almost upon us. Plans are now in place to AI 2,500 ewes in the month of October. CPT ram selection is almost complete, with just one or two spots available across each breed. Any breeder that would like to submit a ram for the CPT should contact us ASAP. Rams must have a high €uroStar index on the Replacement Index as a minimum entry criteria and have been used or be intended for use as a pedigree breeding sire in 2016.

The benefits of getting a ram into the CPT are many. The main one is linkage. Unfortunately a number of performance recording flocks participating in LambPlus are not genetically linked or related to other performance recording flocks in their breed. In order to be linked a breeder must share a ram with another ‘linked’ breeder and the subsequent progeny born from these matings must be weighed. Once this happens the evaluation can go to work and start stripping out the effect of different environmental influences that exist on different farms. The more farms that use a particular sire, the better chance the evaluation system has to work out the ‘genetic’ element of the sire’s performance. Hence the greater the number of linked flocks involved in performance recording the higher the accuracy% will go.

Plans for unlinked flock going forward

In the past Sheep Ireland has communicated with unlinked flocks across all breeds. We will use the remainder of 2016 and 2017 to educate these unlinked breeders about the importance of being linked. Sheep Ireland has a responsibility to commercial farmers to provide the best possible €uroStar indexes and in order for us to achieve this, all performance recording flocks will need to be genetically linked. In 2018 €uroStar Indexes will not be made available to unlinked flocks. The RamPlus programme which Sheep Ireland launched on a pilot project basis for the Texel and Belclare breeds is a great way for breeders to get linked. Our intention is to make this programme available to all the main performance recording breeds in 2017.