Charollais ram with ewes©Tim Scrivener

Charollais sheep farmers can benefit from an updated breeding index to improve growth rates and the speed of finishing Charollais-sired lambs.

The index, produced by Signet Breeding Services, will retain the changes made 10 years ago to penalise sheep with very low fat depth estimated breeding values (EBVs), but it will reduce the emphasis currently applied to sheep with genetically lower levels of fat within the overall carcass.

See also: EBV for lambs reared helps predict ewe financial return

The improvements are expected to increase the commercial value of Charollais-sired lambs by performance-recorded rams, by producing well-muscled, faster growing, but slightly fatter sheep.

The financial benefit of choosing the right recorded ram can exceed £1,000 over its working lifetime, trials have shown.

Samuel Boon, Eblex breeding specialist, said: “The original index has done a great job for the Charollais breed. These changes will provide lambs with slightly higher levels of finish on lower input systems – with slightly faster growth rates. Ultimately these changes are a win-win for the breed.”

Nationally, nearly 27% of lambs are still fatter (3H or more) than market requirements, so producers are being urged to select lambs for slaughter carefully and use the right genetics to optimise market returns, Mr Boon said.

To find a breeder that is recording or look at the EBVs of all Signet-recorded sheep, visit the Signet Breeding Services website.