13th May 2013

Sheep Producer Margins Boosted by Performance Recording

The use of performance recorded tups plays a key role in improved returns according to the results of the second year of the Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) Scottish Sheep Strategy Better Breeding project. The conclusion of two years of results for Suffolk-sired lambs under difficult and variable weather conditions, shows that in almost every case the progeny of performance recorded rams with high indexes was better than those selected purely by eye – leading to greater financial returns for the farm concerned. “After a very difficult final quarter of 2012 and early 2013, we need to use every tool available to help improve our margins,” said Maimie Paterson, Chair of the Scottish Sheep Strategy Group. “The results of the project show, without a doubt, that the financial benefits of performance recorded animals are very real and simply cannot be ignored.” The three farms selected as Suffolk Focus Farms, part of the QMS Better Breeding project which was delivered by Signet Breeding Services, were: Morrisons Farm at Dumfries House; Kings Arms Farm, Ballantrae; and Wellheads Farm at Huntly. “The results from two consecutive years involving 1300 lambs, show that the trend is in favour of the High Performance Sires, although in the second year at Wellheads the results have been in favour of the Farm Choice tups, which were selected purely by eye,” said Kathy Peebles, QMS Livestock Development Officer. “This will occasionally happen as demonstrated in the first year of phase one at Dalmeny with Texel tups. However, the cumulative trials show the odds are definitely in favour of the performance recorded sire.” Overall financial results over the two years show an average gross return per lamb from High Performance Suffolk tups on mule ewes, which ranged from £0.55 to £3.09. These findings are comparable with the first two years of the phase one project findings which then went on to show cumulative gains from the daughters of the High, Low and Farmer’s Choice rams when sired by a High Performance Trait tup.   "This project provides a great example of the real financial benefits that can be attributed to the use of recorded rams,” said Samuel Boon, Signet Manager, ADHB. “It shows that an investment in superior genetics is an important way for sheep producers to increase flock returns.” Mrs Paterson added her thanks to all those involved in the work behind the project including: Robert Dalrymple; Andrew and Fiona McLean at Kings Arms; Andrew and Claire Robinson and Andy McKie at Morrison’s Farm, Dumfries House; John and Ewan Gordon and Doug Stephen at Wellheads; and to Alison Glasgow, formerly of Signet. To obtain a copy of the Phase 2 Final Year and Overall Results of the Suffolk Better Breeding Project contact QMS on 0131 472 4040

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