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Project to develop genetic improvement for sheep sector
Published:  06 June, 2017

Red meat producers are being invited to attend an open day designed to boost the sheep sector by developing genetic improvements. 

The ‘RamCompare’ initiative is being held at Pistyllgwyn farm, Llansawel, Llandeilo, Wales on Tuesday, 13 June.

The farm is one of six partner establishments taking part in the RamCompare project, and is the only one in Wales. Working in conjunction with the whole supply chain, the initiative incorporates data from commercial farms and abattoirs to develop a combined breed analysis for rams across the UK.

When the project is completed, a list of the top 25 rams, based on the growth rates and carcase data of their progeny, will be compiled, with rams from different breeds being compared directly.

Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) is one of 14 partner organisations involved in RamCompare. Gwawr Parry, HCC’s industry development officer said: “An important element of HCC’s remit is to further develop Wales’ sheep sector in order to enhance the quality and increase cost-effectiveness and value to red meat products across the whole supply chain. One way of working towards this goal is to support a number of research and development projects such as the UK-wide RamCompare initiative.

“As the use of EID [electronic identification] increases, so does the amount of data that farmers collect, and this could be used more effectively to benefit the whole industry. Currently, combined-breed genetic evaluations are available in several countries including Ireland, New Zealand and Australia, but not in Britain. The RamCompare project is a major step towards rectifying this.”

Project co-ordinator Bridget Lloyd will give an update on the programme and share information on recruiting flocks for further data capture.

“This is an exciting year, with data collection from our second year’s lambs under way and lambs finishing from 10 weeks of age,” said Lloyd. “As analysis of year one data is being processed, we are actively collecting data from lambs born this spring. At the same time, we are launching Phase ll, recruiting additional farms to the project and involving an additional 64 rams this year from performance-recorded terminal sire breeds. Early results will be revealed in November at the Sheep Breeders Round Table conference. Come and discuss the project in more detail with us next week. We are enormously proud of the farms that are involved and the quality of data being collected.”