Seek a gold or silver standard ram for your flock

While athletes compete for shiny medals in the IAAF World Championships in London, farmers will bid for rams with gold and silver tags at the NSA’s Wales and Border early ram sale on Monday (7 August).

Signet, the national genetic evaluation service for cattle and sheep, is helping sheep producers identify top quality rams with yellow ‘gold standard’ and white ‘silver standard’ identifiers. They point towards performance recorded rams with superior EBVs which have been classed as being in the top 10% and top 25% of their breed.

HCC’s Industry Development Officer, Gwawr Parry said: “The main aim of this concept is to enhance the overall genetic improvement of sheep flocks across the country and assist producers to make profit from the performance of their rams. High index rams can increase profitability by £3-4 per lamb; over its lifetime, this has the potential to add over £1,000 to the flock income, an amount which should not be discounted.

“It has been proven that using EBVs to select rams with the best breeding potential for growth, carcase and maternal traits will boost the productivity of a flock. Signet’s new tags, which are supported by HCC, will help breeders find the right rams for their flock.”

HCC and Signet will be attending the NSA sale in Builth Wells next week and will be sharing information and advice on how to check the health status of rams and review their EBVs prior to purchase.

Gwawr added: “We encourage all farmers to conduct a ram MOT before an animal goes under the hammer. To minimize the risk of buying an unfit and infertile ram, examine its feet, teeth, testicles, body condition score – aim for between 3.5-4.0 – and ask about any treatment it has recently received.”

HCC is also currently working with Signet and other industry partners on the nation-wide RamCompare project which aims to capture and incorporate data from commercial farms and abattoirs to include in genetic evaluations and develop a combined breed analysis of rams across the UK.