Sheep and lambs in a field© Tim Scrivener

A pioneering project is working with 13 sheep farms to evaluate the effect of the rearing phase on the lifetime performance of sheep.

More than 9,000 sheep on English farms will have body condition score, weights, lambing data and lamb performance tracked over seven years.

The goal is to improve understanding around how flock EID data can be used to manage sheep and improve ewe longevity.

See also: Sheep gene ‘atlas’ could match cattle genomics

 

10% lost after first lamb

Up to 10% of shearlings are not retained after the first breeding season due to culling or mortality, according to AHDB Challenge Sheep project manager Hayley King.

“The data generated by the project will help us to develop new guidance to help manage ewe replacements in the future.

“As part of this, each of the farms will have access to cutting-edge information and ways of interrogating data to get the most out of the EID data.”

Sam Jones, a Challenge Sheep farmer who runs a North of England Mule flock and an arable unit near Redditch, Worcestershire, said he hopes the extra performance recording will help future proof his farm with Brexit around the corner.

“I wanted to get involved with Challenge Sheep to make sure I’m getting the best out of the data I have access to.

“Following the sheep from start to finish will be interesting and it will be good to find out simple ways to interpret the information that we get from EID.”