HCC to unveil ground-breaking DNA testing work at open day

GROUND-BREAKING DNA testing work, part of a pilot project utilising new technology available for the first time in the UK, will be the focus of the first open day being held today

at Hybu Cig Cymru/Meat Promotion Wales' new demonstration farm at Rhiwfelen, Foel, Welshpool.

Sheep and beef farmers have been invited to meet hosts, Wyn and Chris Owen, at the most recent addition to the Demonstration Farm network in Wales. The day is organised by HCC under the Farming Connect umbrella.

Rhiwfelen has been investigating the practicality of using DNA technology on a day-to-day basis. Catherine Nakielny, of Innovis, will demonstrate the pin-prick testing technique used to DNA test lambs. A spokesman for HCC said DNA testing could make performance recording more reliable and easier to implement. The profile of DNA markers can later be used to match lambs to their parents. The Owens have been performance recording their 450-strong Welsh Hill Speckled Faced ewes for a number of years and feel the trials could result in a wider use of predictive DNA markers in breeding selection.

They have identifed a number of spin-off benefits, such as ram sale successes and analysing the success they have been having with their wether lambs, which are now being finished far more successfully and the lambs easily making 20kg.

Despite the fact that lamb growth rates have increased since records started, production has maintained a focus on an easy care system, with all ewes lambing outdoors, and no more than five lambings assisted in the last two years. During today's open day, there will also be an opportunity to see the farming system and Charlie Morgan, from IGER, will lead a general discussion about grassland management and its importance in pro? table lamb production. Rhiwfelen is one of eight Demonstration Farms aimed at improving commercial performance and production.