Suffolk sheep breeders look set to continue their drive to ensure the breed suits the needs of future commercial farmers, following two announcements made at the show.
First, the Suffolk Sheep Society is to negotiate the import of Suffolk semen from New Zealand and intends to make it available to breeders keen to incorporate New Zealand easier-care traits into UK flocks.
With these traits already present in several UK flocks through private semen imports, the society hopes to make semen more widely available by overseeing imports on behalf of members.
The society also announced the launch of a period of discussion over the future of the breed’s genetic stock.
Matters up for debate among society members include introgression of beneficial genes from other breeds.
Examples include the Myomax gene from Texels and Loinmax from Poll Dorsets.
The society is also keen to expand its genetic base by incorporating unregistered Suffolks through inspection and identification. The aim here, claims the society, is to avoid the dangers posed by inbreeding.
Finally, there is a proposal to establish a register for White Suffolks imported into the UK from Australia, where the breed was developed in the 1950s to avoid black wool in high-value fleeces.