January Update from the RamCompare Project

RamCompare Update for Hampshire Down Breed Society – January 2021

RamCompare is just completing its fifth year and has been extremely successful having collected data from a total of 283 pedigree terminal sire rams. Included in this vast dataset of over 26,000 commercially reared lambs are 4,258 progeny from 38 Hampshire Down sires.
Thirteen new Hampshire Down rams were used in 2019 through artificial insemination (AI) and single sire natural service (NS) mating (Hampshire Down natural service sires achieved an average of over 112 progeny) and AI conception rates ranged between 57-83%. Progeny growth is monitored from birth, with all abattoir kill data collected as standard. However due to COVID-19 restrictions, we were not able to conduct the ultrasound scanning data on all farms. Regular weights were collected on all farms so all rams will get a fair trial.

What does RamCompare mean for Hampshire Downs?

In 2020 results, we showed that there is a consistent £4 per lamb difference in progeny value between rams. We have seen that rams who excel in their Carcase Value traits have rated highly with their Muscle Depth EBV, CT lean Weight EBV and CT muscularity, suggesting strong links between these traits. The Fat Depth EBV and CT Fat Weight EBV are also good predictors of fat class. The Scan Weight EBV is a strong indicator of on-farm growth and days to slaughter (where up to a 14 day difference was seen across all farms in terms of average progeny finishing time). The Scan Weight EBV also links to the carcase weight of lambs, which helps to improve carcase value.
One key finding is that the best rams from all breeds are comparable, using EBVs to select superior genetics is more important than switching between breeds.

Individual rams excelled with the 2019 lamb crop and case studies were written to coincide with the 2020 results being published. Last years results drew attention to the success of Hampshire Down sires ranking highly in their Days to Slaughter EBV, demonstrating a genetic potential to finish lambs two weeks earlier than most of the rest of the sires on test, three or four weeks earlier than one or two later maturing bloodlines.

RamCompare data has also shown a genetic association exists within breeds between the amount of muscling measured across the loin and a ram’s genetic merit for overall carcase conformation. This is most apparent when looking at the primal weights, with Hampshire genetics dominating the ranking of ram’s for loin weight, when carcases are assessed on a weight adjusted basis.

The full case studies can be read at www.Signetdata.com

RamCompare has shown the commercial worth of selecting rams based on using EBVs so ram buyers are becoming more aware and using EBVs to help inform their selection decisions.
We are preparing to release the latest data in the spring, in advance of this year’s ram selling season. The 2020 results will include the rams listed below.

Hampshire Down rams provided 2019 for this year’s results – the 2020 lamb crop

Member Flock Book Number Registered Name
Stuart Friswell 18U1600407 Kelsey Brahma
HC Derryman & Sons 30N1803071 Yarcombe
Kevin McCarthy 54S1700875 Ballycreelly 007
CM Brant & Son 27Z1801018 Normanby
Richard J Cole 28Y1701299 Chaddlehanger
Dominic & Bethan Klinkenberg C181804216 Appledown
K Hames & C Lake 27Z1700656 Rennisons
George & Sara Wood 92W1801650 Aspley
Eleanor & Annabel Jones 71Z1800456 Morley
Kevin McCarthy 30N1501738 Yarcombe Flashman
E, B & S Jones 57U1700953 Maes-Glas
Janet Hill 24Y1703022 Graylen Romeo
Jane & Roy McFarlane & Lorna Rennie 53Y1800449 Lecropt

RamCompare Interim Year

While the first phase of the project comes to a close, there is real industry interest in extending this area of work. We expect to see the next phase of these activities established in 2021.
Due to the enthusiasm, interest and goodwill of our farmers we have been able to support an interim year of additional data collection in 2021 using existing rams – along with a few new ones purchased in Autumn 2020:
• Two Hampshire Down rams, provided by Dominic & Bethan Klinkenberg – for use at Chawton Park Farm in Hampshire.
• One new ram from C M Brant & Son – for use at Hendre Ifan Goch in South Wales
• One new ram from Jo Henry – for use at Thistleyhaugh Farm in Northumberland.

We are delighted to be able to continue to collect data this year and thank all breeders for their continued support and enthusiasm throughout this project.

Assistance with ram sales and Signet member survey

Signet has developed new features and services to aid breeders market their recorded rams and to reach new customers looking for performance recorded Hampshire Down rams. Signets new sheep for sale page had over 500 rams listed during the peak selling season with over 200 views per day.
Please look out for the Signet Survey that will be arriving with you in the near future – this includes questions specific to performance recording and the RamCompare project and we would be delighted to receive your feedback to provide insight to your perception whether involved directly or not in the project.

For more information please go to www.ramcompare.com or contact me on bridget.lloyd@ahdb.org.uk
Bridget Lloyd – On behalf of the RamCompare team

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