Hampshire Down still Number 1 in RamCompare studies for days to slaughter

RamCompare Update for Hampshire Breed Society – May 2021

The fifth-year results for RamCompare published today, Thursday 20th May reveal how sires with key breeding traits can drive productivity and optimise flock profitability.

The project demonstrates how commercial producers can use specific estimated breeding values (EBVs) to identify rams with a high genetic potential and prove their worth when assessing financial impact.

Phase II of the RamCompare project completed in December 2020 and funding is secured to develop the third phase of the project, over the next five years. RamCompare uses nominated performance-recorded rams from various terminal sire breeds on commercial farms across the UK. To date, this joint-levy funded project has collected data from over 26,000 commercially reared lambs including 38 progeny groups from Hampshire Down sires.

The commercial value of traits vary from farm to farm, but by selecting sires with the right combination of EBVs, producers can identify the most profitable rams for their business.

  • High Scan Weight EBV = Increased growth rates and reduced days to slaughter
  • High Scan Weight/Muscle Depth EBVs = Increased carcase weights
  • Superior Muscle Depth/Gigot Muscularity EBVs = Enhanced carcase conformation
  • Fat Depth EBV = Reliable indicator of the fat classification achieved by sire progeny

Key points from latest RamCompare Hampshire Down results:

  • Leading Hampshire Down rams for Overall Carcase Merit index include AI sires, Court 12077 General and Court 2239 Contender, bred by Mike Adams with General being nominated by Simon Williams, in addition Sidwell Captain, bred by Stuart Friswell did well – all three of these sires, used in previous
    Normanby 27Z1700622 bred by the Brant family and used for two consecutive years

    years, rank highly (top 20%) from 280 rams on test

  • These three rams also place in the top 20% for Carcase Weight EBV with Court Contender showing sixth best overall in the leading table
  • Kelsey Brahma, bred by D Smith & J Atkinson and nominated by Stuart Friswell is the highest placed Hampshire Down for Carcase Conformation EBV last season, other Hampshire rams from Court and Whitehead flocks join him in the top 30% for this trait
  • Numerous Hampshire Down rams feature in the top 20% for Days to Slaughter EBV with six rams in the 2020 leading table from Normanby, Thorbeck, Lecropt and Yarcombe flocks, a ram from the Aspley flocks joins them in the five-year results

Over the past five years, carcases have been dissected to assess primal yields at a fixed weight to provide specific breeding values for the front, middle and haunch weight.

  • Front Weight EBV – Maes-Glas Compario provided by E B & S A Jones is one of the leading rams for this trait placing fifth in the table
  • Middle Weight (loin) EBV – Twelve Hampshire Down sires saturate this table as trait leaders with rams
    Ballycreelly 007 as a lamb, provided by Kevin McCarthy

    included from the Court, Kelsey, Ballycreelly, Graylen, Normanby, Sidwell, Yarcombe, and Aspley flocks

  • Haunch Weight EBV – Rams from the Yarcombe and Benniworth feature strongly as trait leaders with Yarcombe 151738 Flashman, bred by the Derryman family and provided as an AI sire last season by Kevin McCarthy being ranked fourth in the leading table with Benniworth 03Y1700365, bred by Simon Williams following in fifth place


  • Kelsey Brahma is the 2020 trait leader for Scan Weight EBV with other Hampshire Down rams from the Normanby, Yarcombe, Thorbeck and Lecropt flocks joining this table and holding strong places in the five-year table
  • Normanby 27Z1700622 maintains his high position as a trait leader for the second year placing fifth with his Muscle Depth EBV, Graylen 1703022 Romeo bred by Judith Galbraith and provided by Janet Hill and Thorbeck 80X1700402 bred by Jim Birkwood are amongst these leading rams on test last season

Breeders and commercial producers are encouraged to focus on breeding traits that provide the greatest profit to their system and source recorded rams with the right EBVs to deliver them.

Within the high genetic merit sires used, differences in progeny values worth an additional £4-£6 per lamb are clear, providing farmers with the opportunity to enhance flock profitability through careful ram selection. Few rams will do it all; some will excel for carcase conformation, others for speed of finish, producers must evaluate their system to determine which sires have the potential to make the biggest financial impact.

Ultimately, decisions on commercial farms should reflect the profitability of each trait to the enterprise – and this varies with production system and end market. RamCompare clearly shows the benefit of EBV based ram selection to enhance those traits on which producers are paid.

  • For more information on the RamCompare project – including the latest results, visit RamCompare.com – buyers can access the RamCompare data online to see a ram’s genetic ranking for specific traits – scan weight (growth rate) or muscle depth.
  • One week remains to nominate new rams – follow links below to nominate rams for the2021 mating season, closing date Friday 28th May 2021:

RamCompare: Ram Nomination Form (office.com)

RamCompare: Semen Nomination Form (office.com)

This work is led by Samuel Boon and Bridget Lloyd. For further information please contact bridget.lloyd@ahdb.org.uk

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