This year as part of the Central Progeny Test (CPT), Sheep Ireland is mating a proportion of the ewes naturally. To do this Sheep Ireland have purchased ram lambs from Pedigree breeders that fit the criteria.
How will the Natural Mating work?
There are 4 CPT Flocks and each flock will get 3 rams. The idea is to allow approximately 100 ewes to run with a group of 3 rams for their first cycle. All rams will run together in one group as this provides protection in the case where a ram may be infertile or sub-fertile, or, in the case where a ram may not be active, there are 2 others to get the job done.
How will we know who the sire is?
Someone may ask the question if there are 3 rams running with the ewes, well then how could we know who the sire is? The answer is simple, it is through the use of DNA Technology. At lambing time, Sheep Ireland technicians will be busy collecting data on all lambs born in the CPT. In order to facilitate this data collection, all lambs are EID tagged at 24 hours. As part of this tagging, Sheep Ireland take a DNA sample from all the lambs. All the lambs will be genomically tested and that way, the identity of the correct sire of the lambs can be determined.
How were the rams selected?
Sheep Ireland’s main selection criteria for the rams is that they have a very high Replacement Index and that they are from a bloodline that was not previously involved in the CPT.
A shortlist of around 20 rams were identified and Sheep Ireland worked along with the relevant societies for their input. The breeders of the selected rams were then genotyped and parentage verified (where possible). Once the results came back, and the genomic evaluations were generated, we were then able to make our final decision on the rams we would purchase for the Natural Mating.
What rams were selected?