Poll Dorset and Dorset Horn breeders are set to benefit from updated EBV indexes delivered through Signet Breeding Services.

The update is the result of a genetic review, funded by EBLEX and undertaken by Dr Kirsty Moore at SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College).

It includes the introduction of new methodology to assess maternal ability – the genetic component of lamb growth that relates to its mothers milking ability and maternal care – and will enhance the Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) calculated for Dorset sheep.

Both Maternal and Terminal Sire Breeding Indexes have been updated and now focus on slightly faster-finishing breeding lines, while the updated Terminal Sire Index places greater emphasis on muscling within the carcase.

EBLEX say the enhancements will help commercial ram buyers make better breeding decisions when investing in performance-recorded rams and increase the profitability of their flocks through improvements in perfomance.

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Experts say the work highlights breeders have been making faster genetic progress than originally predicted.

EBLEX Breeding Specialist Samuel Boon (pictured above) said: “In completing this work we have observed the tremendous genetic gains made across the recorded Dorset breed over the last decade.

“Breeders have made impressive increases in breeding potential for lamb growth rate and muscling, while simultaneously enhancing economically-important maternal characteristics such as milking ability and prolificacy.”

The new results will be presented to ram buyers for the first time at Dorset sheep sales at Sedgemoor on 12 April and Exeter on 6 and 7 May.