Signet Breeding Services, part of EBLEX - the organisation for beef and lamb levy payers in England - has produced a new breeding index to improve the growth rates and the speed of finishing Charollais-sired lambs.
The new index retains the changes made 10 years ago to penalise sheep with very low fat depth EBVs. It will now also reduce the emphasis currently applied to sheep with genetically lower levels of fat within the overall carcase.
The use of Estimated Breeding Values and Breeding Indexes represents a proven way to enhance commercial sheep production.
These changes will lead to the production of well-muscled, faster-growing, but slightly fatter Charollais sheep.
The improvements are expected to further increase the commercial value of Charollais-sired lambs by performance-recorded rams.
Trials have shown the financial benefit of choosing the right recorded ram can exceed £1000 over its working lifetime.
Breeders engaged in this technology have made enormous genetic gains in commercially-important traits since the launch of the Charollais Sire Reference Scheme 25 years ago.
Jonathan Barber, Charollais Sires chairman, said: “The Charollais breed is a pioneer of progressive breeding. The use of performance records, ultrasound scanning and computed tomography have done a tremendous job identifying elite terminal sires.
“These changes are a natural progression, which ensures high-index Charollais sires meet the needs of the industry.”
Samuel Boon, EBLEX Breeding Specialist, said: “The original index has done a great job for the Charollais breed.
“These changes will provide lambs with slightly higher levels of finish on lower input systems – with slightly faster growth rates. Ultimately these changes are a win-win for the breed.
“However, at a national level nearly 27% of lambs are still fatter (3H or more) than market requirements, so producers are urged to select lambs for slaughter carefully and use the right genetics to optimise market returns.”
EBLEX aims to enhance the profitability of the English beef and lamb sector, helping the supply chain become more efficient and assisting the industry in its quest to add value.
News of the new breeding index follows predictions from the organisation, along with AHDB, that the amount of sheep meat available for consumption on the domestic market will rise again this year.
Overall, UK sheep meat production as a whole is forecast to rise by 4% in 2015, with the sharpest increase taking place in the early part of the year, before stabilising in 2016.
This would take production for 2015 to 309,000 tonnes - the highest figure since 2009.
To find a breeder that is recording or look at the EBVs of all Signet-recorded sheep go to the Signet Breeding Services website www.signetfbc.co.uk .