17th May 2011

Next Phase of Focus Farms Project Launched

Quality Meat Scotland’s Scottish Sheep Strategy group has launched a new project to investigate how production efficiencies can be maximised on commercially operated farms using the Suffolk as a terminal sire.

The new project, officially launched today (May 17th) at the Morrisons Farm at Dumfries House Estate, is phase two of the successful Focus Farms project, aimed at gauging the effectiveness of using Estimated Breeding Values to improve the performance of commercial flocks.

Over the course of phase one of the project, the value of the high index tups averaged approximately £11 per ewe more than the low index tups and £5 per ewe more than the farm choice tups (unrecorded and purchased “by eye”).

The new project, which will again be managed by Alison Glasgow from Signet Breeding Services, will be similar in nature to that of phase one, but will involve three Scottish commercial farms:


  • Kings Arms, Ballantrae by kind permission of Messrs H R & C Dalrymple with assistance from Farm Manager, Andrew McLean.


  • Dumfries House Estate, New Cumnock by kind permission of Wm Morrisons Supermarkets plc with assistance from Farm Manager Andrew Robinson and Jim Holden.


  • Wellheads, Huntly by kind permission of Mr & Mrs J Gordon.


High Index Suffolk tups will be used on the farms over two seasons (2011 and 2012 lambings). Lamb performance will be monitored through to slaughter and compared to the performance of lambs sired by farm choice sires.

Farm meetings will be held twice each year - in the early weeks after lambing and once all lambs have been finished and full results are available. These are open to all local producers and industry representatives.

Maimie Paterson, Chairman of the Scottish Sheep Strategy, said: “The second Focus Farm project is now under way and this time the spotlight is on the Suffolk breed and its reputation for fast finishing lambs.

“High Index tups are being used in the project and the performance of their progeny will be closely scrutinised and compared to the progeny of farm choice, which are un-recorded tups, bought by eye.

“No doubt it will all make for an interesting and lively debate as the results become available.”

Morrisons’ Head of Agriculture, David Evans added: “We’re delighted that the Morrisons Farm at Dumfries House is part of this exciting initiative. Like any other farmer we’re looking at technologies that can help improve the farm business profitability.  I am convinced EBVs have a vital role to play in helping us achieve a better performance from our sheep flock.”

If you would like to become involved in one of the farm groups, please contact Alison Glasgow, Signet on 0131 535 3237 or email alison.glasgow@eblex.ahdb.org.uk

To follow the progress of the trial, click on the Scottish Sheep Strategy web site www.scottishsheepstrategy.org.uk

Caption: Maime Paterson, Scottish Sheep Strategy Chairman, pictured at today’s event.

For further press information please contact Carol McLaren, Head of Communications, QMS on 0131 4724112 or mobile: 07739 900653 email: cmclaren@qmscotland.co.uk


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