Welsh pedigree sheep breeders urged to take part in major project

Welsh pedigree sheep breeders have the opportunity to take part in a key industry project and receive valuable information on their rams’ progeny by nominating rams and semen for RamCompare.

RamCompare is the UK’s first commercial progeny test, using data from throughout the supply chain to inform genetic evaluations. The project is now in its second phase, with several Welsh breeders having nominated rams for the first phase.

The breeds sought for the project are: Texel, Suffolk, Charollais, Meatlinc, Hampshire Down, Blue Texel, Bleu Du Maine, Poll Dorset and Beltex.

Supported by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), the aim of RamCompare is to enable the UK sheep industry to drive genetic improvement forward through the inclusion of commercial data in genetic evaluations.

Participants in RamCompare will gain feedback on how their stock has performed for commercially relevant traits. New estimated breeding values (EBVs) for carcase weight, carcase fat and carcase conformation are available for animals involved in the project, which can in turn be used for marketing rams.

There is a minimum requirement of 30 doses of semen for use via artificial insemination (AI). With the introduction of a unit at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in Northern Ireland, the project team is looking for semen collected with both domestic and EU Export status.

For natural service sires, fit and fertile rams are required, with preference given to rams that are shearlings or older.

Alwyn Phillips, a pedigree Texel breeder from Caernarfon who has supplied rams for the project, said “RamCompare provides a great way for flocks to benchmark performance in an unbiased, commercial environment. It also provides an alternative shop window to show customers what our genetics can do.”

Gwawr Parry, HCC’s Industry Development Officer commented, “I would encourage Welsh pedigree sheep breeders to make the most of this unrivalled opportunity. This is a chance to take part in a significant industry project and to also receive highly valuable information on their flock which they can use to promote their rams.”

Nominations are now open and close on 5 March 2018. Requirements, including the nomination form, can be found at: www.ramcompare.co.uk or for more information contact Bridget Lloyd, project co-ordinator, on Bridget.Lloyd@ahdb.org.uk