How RamCompare could boost the sheep sector

Sheep farmers in Carmarthenshire are set to host an open day on ‘RamCompare’, an important industry-wide project which aims to boost our country’s sheep sector by driving and developing genetic improvement.

Red meat producers are invited to attend the open day held at Pistyllgwyn farm, Llansawel, Llandeilo on Tuesday 13 June.

Pistyllgwyn is one of six partner farms participating in RamCompare, and the only farm in Wales. Working with the supply chain, the project aims to incorporate data from commercial farms and abattoirs to include in genetic evaluations and develop a combined breed analysis of rams across the UK.

Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) is one of 14 partner-organisations involved in RamCompare, and some of the participating rams were on HCC’s stand at the recent NSA Welsh Sheep event held near Brecon. At the end of the project, lists of the top 25 rams based on the growth rates and carcase data of their progeny will be compiled and rams of different breeds will be compared directly.

Gwawr Parry, HCC’s Industry Development Officer said: “An important element of HCC’s remit is to further develop Wales’ sheep sector in order to enhance the quality, increase cost-effectiveness and add value to red meat products across the whole supply chain. One way of working towards this goal is to support a number of research and development projects such as the UK-wide RamCompare initiative.

“As the use of EID increases, so does the amount of data that farmers collect, and this could be used more effectively to benefit the whole industry. Currently, combined-breed genetic evaluations are available in several countries including Ireland, New Zealand and Australia, but not in Britain. The RamCompare project is a major step towards rectifying this.”

The event, starting at 4pm, will include an update by Project Co-ordinator Bridget Lloyd who will share information on recruiting flocks for further data capture. Emma Steele from Signet will also provide a data update.

Bridget Lloyd said: “This is an exciting year with data collection from our second year’s lambs underway and lambs finishing from ten weeks of age. As analysis of year one data is being processed we are actively collecting data from lambs born this spring. At the same time we are launching Phase II recruiting additional farms to the project and involving an additional 64 rams this year from performance recorded terminal sire breeds. Early results will be revealed in November at the Sheep Breeders Round Table conference. Come and discuss the project in more detail with us next week, we are enormously proud of the farms that are involved and the quality of data being collected.” 

During the event, producers will be guided on a farm tour by farmers Sion and Claire Williams. Lambing the ewes down to four different terminal breeds has given them an interesting insight as shepherds. They have been able to make their own observations regarding different birth traits, and some of this information will be shared on the day.

Anyone with an interest in attending should contact HCC to register on 01970 625050 /