Producers running sheep in a commercial “hard hill” business will have the opportunity to explore the benefits of using performance recorded genetics, at Dunvegan Show, this Saturday (27 July 2013).
Quality Meat Scotland’s Isle of Skye Sheep Strategy Project will be part of the SRUC stand at the event, where producers can find out how Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) and EID technology have reduced the paperwork burden for the project participants.
The project is centred on four farms on the island where recorded rams were put out with ewes last autumn, now resulting in offspring on the ground.
Kathy Peebles, QMS Livestock Manager said: “It is essential for the future of hill sheep production that lamb numbers are increased to ensure that we have a viable hill sector.
“The Black Loss project has demonstrated the numerical and financial impact that a number of hill businesses are sustaining and this is not a situation that can continue in the longer term.
“The purpose of the Isle of Skye project is to look at ways we can monitor and increase hill lamb production through the use of better genetic lines based on EBVs.”
The project is being managed by Janette Sutherland of SAC Consulting, a division of SRUC, Scotland’s Rural College, based at Portree. Miss Sutherland said: “At the start of the project, feedback from the Isle of Skye crofters and farmers revealed that the current barriers to the use of Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) on the island included the lack of availability of tups with EBVs for sale, and lack of recording, as producers have been put off by paperwork.”
“To overcome these barriers, five cheviot and two blackface recorded tups were bought, plus suitable EID equipment. The tup traits were chosen to meet the needs of each flock.”
Neil Montgomery of Straun, one of the farmers involved in the project said: “It was an interesting process to select tups with EBV information available. I am looking forward to seeing how the lambs have performed during the trial.”
The first meeting of the community group will evaluate the weights and prices obtained by the lambs put to recorded and non-recorded tups, and follow a flock that is fully recording to produce tups on the island.
The meeting will be held with kind permission of Charlie Beaton at 4 Dunans on Saturday 24th August, starting with a soup and sandwich lunch at 12.30pm. Crofters and others from the supply trade who would like to attend the free meeting should contact Janette Sutherland at Unit 3, 6 Leasgeary Place, Portree by telephone 01478612993 or email email@example.com.
Photo caption: Neil Montgomery (front right), joined by his assistant, undertaking routine summer tasks on his farm in Skye.