15th May 2017

Selkirk Farm Hosts Event to Showcase Sheep Genetics Project

A Selkirk sheep farm is hosting a free evening event on Monday 19 June 2017 to showcase the progress of an exciting commercial sheep genetics project.

The RamCompare open evening at Carterhaugh Farm on Bowhill Estate (TD7 5HE) will highlight how an innovative breeding programme could help farmers improve the genetic performance of their flocks.

Bowhill Estate is one of six commercial farms involved in UK-wide RamCompare project. This two-year breeding project aims to improve genetics in commercial flocks and is part-funded by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).

According to Sion Williams, farm manager at Bowhill Estate, the results of the project are set to give commercial farmers a clear indication of the difference a ram can make to the productivity and efficiency of their flocks.

“At a time when more and more producers are looking for ways to improve their profitability, this project will help close the gap between commercial and pedigree producers in terms of desirable traits in a stock ram. This can only be good for the industry,” said Mr Williams.

The on-going project is divided into two phases. Phase I runs over two breeding seasons and is analysing the performance data of the lambs from 70 tups from five different terminal sire breeds (Texel, Charollais, Suffolk, Hampshire and Meatlinc).  Phase 2 will continue from this year’s mating season and will follow lamb performance for a further three years until 2020.

At the end of the project all the tested rams will be ranked, based on commercially important traits.

Emily Grant, Knowledge Transfer Specialist at Quality Meat Scotland, said: “This is a really exciting project.  Currently genetic breeding values only allow comparisons within breeds. Testing the different breeds across a sizeable number of ewes on commercial farms will ultimately allow comparison across breeds. In addition, the amount of data collected, again under commercial conditions, will also give farmers real confidence that using EBVs will deliver clear commercial benefits to their businesses.

The second crop of lambs from the RamCompare rams were born at Bowhill Estate in March.  The event on 19 June will be opportunity for farmers with an interest in sheep genetics to learn more about the project and see the Bowhill sires and their progeny as they embark on their 12 week assessments.

The RamCompare event at Carterhaugh will begin at 4pm. Bridget Lloyd from AHDB and Steve West from Signet will give an overview of the RamCompare project at the meeting and Sion Williams will give an overview of how the project is progressing at Bowhill.

This informal event will end at 7pm with a Scotch Lamb PGI roast. For catering purposes, if you would like to attend please contact QMS by email info@qmscotland.co.uk or phone 0131 472 4040 by Monday 12 June.

The RamCompare project is about to move towards Phase 2 and is currently looking to recruit additional flocks as well as nominations for natural service rams and AI sires for the project.   For further information about the project and how you can get involved, please contact bridget.lloyd@ahdb.org.uk. More details can be found at signetfbc.co.uk/ramcompare

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