Cross breeding Welsh Mountain Ewes - their performance in the Welsh Hills
To evaluate the potential of crossbred ewes as a breeding ewe in the Welsh hills, with the aim of improving carcase size and conformation of finished lambs.
Why Is It Important?
In order to maintain incomes, farmers must increase/improve the productivity of their sheep. Although hill farmers do produce crossbred lambs, traditionally the female lambs are sold to farmers in the uplands or lowlands for crossing with a terminal sire breed and the male lambs become part of the slaughter generation. The hybrid vigour associated with a crossbred ewe is then capitalised by the upland or lowland farmer rather than the hill farmer.
Switching to a crossbred ewe could offer advantages in that kg of lamb per ewe would be increased; and using crossing sires with desirable conformation traits and lean:fat ratios, lambs produced would be nearer to market requirements.
However, the question remains as to whether the hybrid vigour of the crossbred ewe can be exploited in the hills, and whether traits such as hardiness are comprised.
How Did The Project Work?
Welsh ewes were crossed with either Cheviot, Dorset (Poll), Lleyn or Texel rams to produce crossbred lambs. 150 female lambs from each cross were selected as breeding stock.
- The lifetime performance of the crossbred ewes was monitored and compared to the lifetime performance of pure bred Welsh Mountain ewes.
- The financial performance was also evaluated.
Who Did The Work?
The research was undertaken by ADAS Pwllpeiran
The project was jointly funded by HCC and Farming Connect