RamCompare team launch new project to boost sheep industry's genetic improvement

New rams now being sought from breeders involved in performance recording for AI section of initiative

EBLEX Breeding Services Manager Sam Boon
EBLEX Breeding Services Manager Sam Boon

A SEARCH has been launched for rams to take part in a new project that aims to boost the sheep industry’s genetic improvement.

The team behind the RamCompare project is contacting breeders to identify rams that can be used for the artificial insemination (AI) section of the initiative.

Eight AI rams will be required during year one - two Texel, two Charollais, two Suffolk, one Meatlinc and one Hampshire Down.

Semen that has already been collected from widely-used sires is being used where possible, but some rams are being sent for semen collection.

The next step will be to purchase 24 rams for use by natural mating within the single-sire mating groups in the first year of the two-year trial.

Six Texels, Suffolks and Charollais are being sought, along with three from the Meatlinc and Hampshire Down breeds, with all breeders who are involved in performance recording being contacted for nominations.

To pass the criteria required for the project, the 24 rams included must be:

* performance recorded;

* in the top 20% of the breed based on growth and carcase EBVs;

* from a flock with good genetic linkage to other flocks;

* of high health status and;

* available from July 2015.

A fixed price will be offered and there will be a maximum of two rams per breeder.

Mature stock rams with progeny on the ground can be nominated, and if too many rams that fit the criteria are put forward then proximity to RamCompare flocks will be used as an additional filter.

The RamCompare project was launched earlier this year, with the aim of driving genetic improvement forward through the inclusion of commercial data in genetic evaluations.

It will work along the supply chain to get lamb performance data from farms and abattoirs included in genetic evaluations.

The project is a pilot to trial strategies for data capture and will be similar to central progeny tests that are taking place in Australia, New Zealand and Ireland.

Samuel Boon, EBLEX Breeding Services Manager, said: “This is an exciting phase of the RamCompare project, as we seek to find the rams that will start off the initiative.

“We have been in touch with all registered performance recorded breeders and are confident that the project will move forward with some of the best rams available involved.”

Rams will be selected to ensure there is variation in the genetic merit of those tested, and where possible the team will seek to ensure different breeding lines are used.

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