Ewes and lambs at grass© Tim Scrivener

English sheep farmers are being encouraged to take part in a new initiative in order to improve the lifetime performance of ewes.

The Challenge Sheep project launched by AHDB Beef & Lamb aims to get better lifetime performance from ewe replacements by understanding the effect of what happens to them as ewe lambs and shearlings.

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It will track 5,000 replacements from a range of sheep farms over seven years to understand how flock performance can be improved.

Recruitment

AHDB Beef & Lamb is looking to recruit sheep producers who represent a variety of systems and are keen to use the data they are collecting via EID to improve their decision-making on ewe management.

The selected farms will have access to the information and ways of interrogating data so they can get the maximum benefit.

Research has already shown up to 20% of ewes are not retained after their first breeding season due to premature culling or death.

Young sheep can also have a negative effect on overall flock performance due to poor lamb performance, explained AHDB Beef & Lamb senior livestock scientist Liz Genever.

“Challenge Sheep aims to understand the effect ewe replacements can have on flock productivity and, ultimately, farm profitability.

“Using this knowledge, the project will develop best-practice guidelines for managing ewe replacements.

“The research work will be linked to an extensive knowledge-exchange programme to ensure results get taken up rapidly by the industry.”

What is required

Producers involved in the project will be required to collect a range of data via EID, such as weight, body condition score, lambing data and lamb performance.

They will also be involved in a number of events during the lifetime of the project where the findings will be communicated to other producers and used to stimulate debate.

In return, Challenge Sheep participants will receive regular feedback and help with monitoring changes they make on farm.

Apply for the project on the AHDB website