RamCompare Update

RamCompare update January 2022 – Hampshire Down Sheep Breeders Association

Great year for Hampshire Downs as Kelsey and Normanby genetics lead the top ranking terminal sires in the country for growth rate in 2020/21, as major project shows the commercial value of performance recording and the selection of rams using Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs).

The sixth year of data collection is coming to a close with updated results due in May. Over 30,000 commercially reared lambs, have contributed to this dataset, sired by 313 rams from 12 terminal sire breeds. This includes 42 Hampshire Down rams with a total of 5,557 progeny, 1,299 of which were born last year from rams provided by Ed Brants, Normanby flock and Millfields and Appledown stock rams provided by Bethan Klinkenburg.  Their progeny will be analysed in the coming year.

RamCompare uses nominated performance-recorded rams from various terminal sire breeds on commercial farms across the UK. The project has been a major success and in spring last year, AHDB announced the continuation of this joint-levy funded project, launching Phase III to support additional data collection and enhance the breeding values generated.

  • Over six years, RamCompare has shown which traits can be used to drive productivity and optimise flock profitability
  • Abattoir data has been used to create a series of new breeding values, which highlight the most profitable sires
  • Research has started to assess genetic influences on primal yield and meat quality (namely tenderness)
  • We have identified differences in progeny values worth £4-£6 per lamb – demonstrating the opportunity that exists to enhance flock profitability through careful ram selection

The project has shown how commercial farmers can improve efficiency and reduce the cost of lamb production through the selection of superior rams, while providing breeders with important information to enhance their breeding policies and increase rates of genetic gain.

Interim Year continues to build data

Thanks to the enthusiasm of our farm partners and terminal sire ram breeders we were delighted to be able to continue to collect data during our interim year. A team of new rams joined existing stock rams for use by natural service on six RamCompare farms resulting in over 5,200 lambs born in 2021. Data collected from the progeny of these sires will be reported later this year.

Normanby 27Z1700622 bred by the Brant family and used for two consecutive years

May 2021 Hampshire Down results

Ranking out of the 280 rams from various breeds that have been analysed to date and the 89 rams analysed in 2020.

 

Leading ram to date

(2015-2020)

Leading ram in 2020
On-farm data*    
Scan Weight EBV

Kelsey Brahma

(Rank 3/280)

Same ram

(Rank 1/89)

Muscle Depth EBV

Millfields 43W12084

(Rank 7/280)

Normanby 27Z1700622

(Rank 5/89)

Abattoir data**
Carcase Weight EBV

Court 2239 Contender

(Rank 5/280)

Kelsey Brahma

(Rank 27/89)

Carcase Conformation EBV

Court 12077 General & Whitehead 64T1500471

(Rank 56/280 – joint place)

Kelsey Brahma

(Rank 30/89)

Days to Slaughter EBV

Normanby 27Z1700622

(Rank 2/280)

Same ram

(Rank 1/89)

Overall Carcase Merit

Court 12077 General

(Rank 51/280)

Kelsey Brahma

(Rank 30/89)

*National Terminal Sire Evaluation BLUP run 18/02/2021

** RamCompare Evaluation BLUP run 01/03/2021

Stepping into the future with phase III

Four new commercial farms were recruited last summer to join RamCompare. A team of 80 new rams were purchased as AI sires/natural service rams and distributed amongst the nine farms for use in the 2021 mating season.

Over the next five years, phase III will continue to build on our knowledge of the genetic impact of ram selection on commercial lamb production. Research will be started to facilitate the routine evaluation of carcase traits within the National Terminal Sire Evaluation and by encouraging wider participation from pedigree breeders, commercial farmers and processors we intend to extend the reach of the initial project.

Summary

The commercial value of traits varies from farm to farm, but by selecting those Signet recorded 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
  • High genetic merit sires demonstrate increased progeny values worth around £5/lamb which equates to £1200-£1500/ram during their working lifetime

Farmers have an opportunity to enhance flock profitability through careful ram selection but beware as few rams can do it all – some will excel for carcase conformation, others for speed of finish. Producers should evaluate their system and determine which sires have the potential to make the biggest financial impact.

For more information on the RamCompare project – including the latest results, commercial farms involved and rams on test visit www.RamCompare.com.

Are you collecting abattoir data? Please contact us if you are currently collecting abattoir data from single sire matings in either your pedigree or commercial flock or have commercial clients that are using your rams who may be interested in working with us. This data may be really useful in enhancing future genetic evaluations of your stock and some breeders are already starting to submit this information directly to Signet.

Ram nominations open – all performance recorded members will be notified by email when ram nominations open in February for the 2022 mating season, closing date Wednesday 20th April 2022, links for online nomination forms will be available through the website.

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

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