Genetic improvement scheme for Welsh sheep

Hybu Cig Cymru (Meat Promotion Wales) used the NSA Welsh Sheep event to recruit farmers for a £750,000 genetic improvement scheme. The four-year project, funded through the Wales Rural Development Plan, is designed to help pedigree sheep breeders supply genetically superior sires to commercial producers.

Project executive Dewi Hughes warned that funding was finite and it would be a case of first-come-first-served. “Our objective is to improve the genetics of rams available from pedigree breeders, so commercial breeders can benefit from better lamb performance and enhanced carcass traits,” Mr Hughes explained.

Using a top 10% sire could cut lamb finishing time by 14 to 21 days and increase deadweight by 0.5 to 7.5kg. This combined by better grading results could be worth up to £4 a lamb.

The scheme would fund up to 90% of the cost of performance testing hill and upland breeds, with up to 50% support for terminal sire breeds.

Farmers breeding terminal sires could also get 50% of the cost of artificial insemination and embryo transfer initiatives.

Mr Hughes added that HCC staff would also assist the marketing of rams produced by the scheme by clearly identifying them at ram sales and providing sire selection advice.

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