Sheep farmers should be aiming to breed a tup producing five tonnes of lamb liveweight a year.

The EBLEX “Five Tonne Tup” initiative is trying to encourage commercial sheep farmers to assess whether the tup they are using is fit for purpose.

Speaking at Sheep 2012 in Malvern, Liz Genever, beef and sheep scientist for EBLEX said: “The industry average is only 2.9 tonnes of lambs produced from a tup a year based on our business pointers data and assuming a 42kg finished weight. However, five tonnes is achievable.”

The calculation for whether you have a five tonne is:

Number of ewes put to the ram x by number of lambs reared x by finished weight = tup efficiency

And getting a tup to produce five tonnes of lamb live weight a year isn’t rocket science but involves a management process, explained Dr Genever. “It is achievable if you start with the right ram, that is vital. There are also five steps farmers can look at to produce a five tonne tup,” she said.

Ask the breeder questions – understand how the sheep has been fed. Ensure they do not exceed the 60:40 forage to concentrate ratio (in relation to dry matter)

  • Look at estimated breeding values to maximise lamb carcass traits
  • MOT your ram 10 weeks before tupping
  • Make sure ewes are in the right body condition at tupping and lambing
  • Monitor lamb growth rates pre- and post-weaning

A new guide to profitable sheep production is also available to help guide you through key areas such as flock health, handling, breeding and feeding. Take a look at http://www.fwi.co.uk/flockfocus

For more on the NSA Sheep 2012 event

Go to our Sheep 2012 page