On Tuesday of the Virtual Sheep Week held by Teagasc, the focus was on increasing productivity and efficiency through breeding and genetics. The panel discussion was led by Michael Gottstein, Sheep Specialist, Teagasc with panelists Eamon Wall, Sheep Ireland, Fiona McGovern Teagasc Athenry and Áine O’Brien, Teagasc Moorepark. A live webinar was held at 7pm, if you missed it catch is below.
During this insightful webinar, Sheep Ireland’s Eamon Wall discussed the importance of commercial on-farm recording, the potential of emerging DNA technologies in assigning parentage to lambs and how to improve the accuracy of data recording. Aine O’Brien discussed the potential of genetic selection in reducing the labour requirement during lambing. She looked at traits such as lambing difficulty, lamb vigour and ewe mothering ability. Tomás O’Leary, Ovidata participant and Teagasc BETTER farmer gave a first-hand insight into the benefits of performance recording in combination with using superior genetics. He outlined how these have helped him improve his flock productivity thus showing the possibilities available at farm level. Tomás discussed the breeding decisions he is currently making on his farm for the 2020 breeding season including the benefits that can be achieved from mating ewe lambs and the criteria he uses to select lambs for breeding each year. Fiona McGovern addressed the role of genetics in breeding a more “environmentally friendly” animal with a reduced carbon ‘hoof’print. She gave an overview of results from phase one of the Irish New Zealand.