Kelsey Trophy heads to Norfolk

The Morley flock in Norfolk managed by Eleanor, Annabel and Andrew Jones win the 2021 Kelsey cup for the most genetic gain in the Hampshire down breed. The flock has increased the genetic merit of their lambs by 31 index points in 2021. To qualify for the Kelsey trophy breeders need to be performance recording for three years, ultrasound scanning their lambs and recording over 20 lambs for the three years.

Where are the flock making improvements?

The Morley flock has been recording their lamb weights since 2016 and using ultrasound measurements for muscle and fat depth since 2017. The information provided through performance recording is combined with the stockmanship and skill to select the best sheep to retain in the flock for breeding and to increase the genetic merit of the flock in performance along with breed type.

Over the past four years, the flock has made good progress in the muscling of their lamb crop at a fixed weight. The increases in the Muscle Depth EBV have been achieved while the Scan Weight EBV for the lamb crop has kept pace with the rest of the breed.

 

The wide use of a new stock ram 79N2001079 for the 2021 lambing season across the flock helped to keep up rates of genetic progress. The ram has great performance figures, sitting in the top 10% for his Terminal Sire Index, Scan Weight EBV and Muscle Depth EBV. Rams offer a great way to improve the genetics of a lamb crop, but it is important to remember that lambs receive half their genetics from each parent, so ewe selection is also important.

How recording is being used well in the Morley Flock

The flock is also showing some great practice when it comes to recording to ensure the best quality data is collected to give the most accurate breeding values. Rams are being used over multiple seasons and being purchased from other performance recorded flocks, this means that the flock can fairly compare lambs across seasons and to other performance recorded flocks in the breed. New rams are being used widely producing lots of progeny in their first year, and the majority of the lamb crop are being measured for growth and their carcase quality allowing the lambs with the best genetics to stand out.
Since beginning recording 17 ram lambs have been sent to the CT unit, to gather more information about the carcase quality of the rams. The CT unit provides valuable information and feeds into the CT gigot, CT Lean Weight, CT Fat Weight and spinal trait EBVS, to help select the most elite ram lambs with the best quality carcases for breeding.

Where are the runners up making progress in their flocks?
The Chaddlehanger and Raburn flocks made the second and third most genetic progress in the breed. The Chaddlehanger flock saw great progress in the Scan Weight EBV of the lamb crop thanks to the wide use of the stock ram 30N1803064 across the flock. The Raburn flock saw good genetic progress in both the Muscle Depth and Scan Weight EBV driving the Terminal Sire Index up.

Why recording is important?
Performance recording shows the genetic merit of sheep in specific performance traits to aid with marketing and selection. In the RamCompare project using EBVs to select rams can have a £5 per head difference on the commercial value of their progeny or mean that rams can be selected to produce faster finishing progeny. Without performance recording, these rams couldn’t be selected and progress in these traits would be limited.
How to get involved?
Recording your flock is easy, you just need the pedigree information you are already collecting along with extra performance information. There are two weights to collect, the first when they all the lambs in the flock are between six and twelve weeks, and the second the scan weight with the option to ultrasound scan your lambs too when they are averaging over 40 kgs. There is also the option to CT scan the top ram lambs from your flock to collect carcase measurements on sheep that can be used for breeding. To begin recording your flock please contact Signet signet@ahdb.org.uk or call 0247 647 8826.

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