Today marks the beginning of CPT AI 2020!

Today marks the beginning of CPT AI 2020!

This year has been extraordinary in terms of the global pandemic with Covid 19 causing havoc across the globe. However, even with the struggles that come with trying to live amongst a pandemic, essential farming work still needs to be done and CPT is no different to this. Sheep Ireland staff along with the Central Progeny Test (CPT) farmers have really pulled together and worked very hard through these past few months to ensure ‘business as usual’ for the CPT.

CPT Sponging 2020

The purpose of the CPT sponging is to synchronise ewes oestrus cycle for the day of AI. All CPT ewes are weighed, body condition scored , lameness recorded, dag scored and mastitis recorded, this is all recorded​ using the Sheep Ireland LambPlus App. Sponges were inserted approximately 2 weeks ago with the first flock due for removal yesterday in the first CPT flock.

CPT AI 2020 begins Today

Today see’s the beginning of the CPT AI programme on one of Sheep Ireland’s CPT farms.  The first of the CPT farms to begin AI is James Napers in County Meath. Sheep Ireland’s representative Sean Godfrey along with some of Sheep Ireland’s technicians are on farm today with AI technicians from ProStar Genetics also present.  This week Sheep Ireland technicians have been busy training CPT rams to provide semen for AI. This is taking place on the UCD Lyons estate in County Dublin. To facilitate efficient fresh semen AI each day on farm, it is critical that all rams are adequately trained and familiar with providing semen. Some rams were taking a little more time to train than others however good quality semen is being analysed and will be used. There is up to over 20 rams across 6 breeds being used in the CPT this year. It is worth noting that there are fewer rams used for AI this year compared to other. This is due to the new natural mating group developed this year. Read more on the CPT natural mating group here.

With over 20 rams being used across the 2,100 ewes,  a lot of effort is put in place to ensure that the maximum return is acquired from the subsequent recorded data. Some of the criteria we apply to fulfill this goal is as follows:

  1. Each year we source rams from each of the largest LambPlus participating breeds. We also select
    one ram from the previous year for each breed, this means we can genetically link the data collected last year to the data collected this year to get maximum linkage.
  2. Each ram is used on at least two flocks with the target of three flocks per ram.
  3. Each ram is mated with a similar number of ewes from each breed.
  4. Each farm in the CPT receives a similar percentage of each breed.
  5. Every farm has at least two rams of the same breed used.

We currently have a detailed plan in place that will accomplish this, however inevitably each year this has to be adapted to accommodate for rams that do not perform as expected on a particular day and we re-adjust the mating plan as best as possible. This is why rams are brought into the ram collection centre in UCD for a period of time prior to AI where they are trained to jump and where their semen quality can be tested. This helps to rule out some of the potential problems that may occur on the day of AI.