It’s encouraging to see a large number of Lamb Plus breeders beginning to enter their lambing data onto the new Sheep Ireland screens already. Breeders are certainly recognising the benefit of entering lambs on the system regularly during the lambing season as opposed to one sitting after all ewes have lambed. From a data quality and accuracy point of view the sooner the lambing event is recorded onto the Sheep Ireland database the better. This prompt data recording will also be rewarded in future development of our breeder Data Quality Index (DQI).
Ovigen planning continues
We continue to progress our plans for Ovigen and its ambitious plan to collect DNA from all performance recorded ewes for genotyping.
- Breeds that can benefit from genomics and Ovigen:
To deliver any benefit to a breed, genomics requires a number of critical ingredients. The major requirement is a solid foundation of performance recording within that breed. Benefiting from genomic analysis is not possible without this foundation.
- Inclusion of other breed
We are currently collecting a small number of DNA samples from other breeds that are performance recording with Sheep Ireland in lower numbers. This will allow us to evaluate if genomics will have any potential to add benefit to the genetic evaluations currently being provided to these breeds. Relatedness to the five strongest performance recording breeds will determine if any other breeds will benefit from being genotyped. By collecting a small number of DNA samples from all these breeds, we will be able to assess how closely related these breeds are to our top five recording breeds and a decision to include in Ovigen genotyping will be made on this basis.
- DNA collection plans
Our intention is to visit all LambPlus recording breeders within the Texel, Suffolk, Charollais, Belclare and Vendeen breeds. During this farm visit we plan to collect a number of valuable measurements:
- DNA sample from each ewe and ram – Using an ear punch which will collect an ear tissue sample.
- Ewe mature weights.
- Ewe condition scores.
- Ewe visual scores.
- Lamb weights.
- Additional measurements are being considered.
Visit from Quality Meat Scotland to CPT
On Tuesday Sheep Ireland welcomed a group from Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) who visited two of our CPT flocks (Andrew Moloney in Edenderry, Co. Offaly and John Large in Gortnahoe, Co. Tipperary) to find out more about how Sheep Ireland is steadily developing and if they can learn from our CPT. We were also anxious to get their views and thoughts on what we are doing here. Continued international collaboration is essential to strengthening any breeding program especially here in Ireland as many of our pedigree breeders source rams in the UK each year. This QMS group contained people with huge experience in the UK and other sheep industries and it was extremely interesting to hear their thoughts on genetic improvement. See some images from the visit below.