A ewe with lambs©Food and Drink/Rex

An EBV to reflect number of lambs reared is being phased in across some sheep breeds to help predict financial return a ewe.

The litter size reared EBV is an indication of the number of lambs born alive and reared to at least eight weeks of age by the ewe, highlighting the hardy breeding lines.

See also: Expert advice for a successful lambing

This new EBV joins the existing litter size born EBV, to improve accuracy in prolificacy measurements. It is calculated from records that show a lamb has been reared, for example eight- or 21-week weights.

Speaking at a recent Hybu Cig Cymru event, Signet breeding consultant Sion Parry said: “Although a high lambing percentage is a good indicator of flock performance, a farmer doesn’t make a return on a lamb until it is sold or retained in the flock for breeding – the number of lambs reared by a ewe therefore has a strong bearing on her financial performance.”

He advised farmers to focus on four breeding objectives to improve productivity and efficiency through genetic improvement:

1. Increasing maternal efficiency

Key to overall flock performance.

Select high EBVs for litter size born, litter size reared and maternal ability.

2. Improving growth

Increases weight of lambs sold, the proportion finished off grass and reduces days to slaughter.

Select high EBVs for eight-week weight and scan weight.

3. Improving carcass traits

Financial returns improve for those within market specification.

Select high EBV for muscle depth and low EBV for fat depth.

4. Enhancing animal health and welfare

Lamb survival is key to financial performance.

Select high EBVs for lambing ease, birthweight and litter size reared.