Welsh scheme reveals benefits of performance recorded rams

Welsh ramLambs sired by performance recorded rams are heavier than those sired by non-performance recorded sires, according to initial results from the Hill Ram Scheme run by Hybu Cig Cymru / Meat Promotion Wales (HCC).

Seven Hill Ram Scheme Leader Flocks took part in the study and the results are based on more than 2,500 lambs.

Outcomes from the 2019 lambing season show:

  • Lambs sired by performance recorded rams were on average 1.6kg heavier at eight weeks than their non-performance recorded equivalents.
  • 76% of the performance recorded lambs were over 20kg at eight weeks.
  • There were 13% fewer lambs under 20kg liveweight at eight weeks when recorded sires were used.
  • 22% more lambs sired by recorded rams were above 30kg at weaning.
  • Compared with non-recorded sired lambs, the lambs sired by performance recorded rams were on average 2.4kg heavier.
  • In monetary terms, this meant lambs sired by performance recorded rams could have been worth approximately £4 a head more, based on a price of 170p/kg (the average liveweight price in August/September 2019).

See also: How Ram Compare could add £5 to lamb value

Gwawr Parry, HCC’s flock genetics executive and the co-ordinator of the scheme, commented: “These initial results are very exciting and show promise that the scheme and the use of genetic performance recording will allow hill farmers to produce lambs for a wider range of markets by using genetics.

“The concept was created in order to help hill farmers become more resilient and sustainable in their businesses; allowing them to target various aspects of flock performance to produce lambs efficiently and within a wider range of market specifications.

“In a hill environment it is difficult to target growth and finishing in lambs. However, these results show small genetic differences can have a big impact on margins without fundamentally changing farmers’ systems.”

What are Leader Flocks?

The Leader Flocks are a network of seven geographically diverse hill farmers who joined the Hill Ram Scheme in 2018 and act as exemplars to the other participating flocks joining the scheme at the later stage.

The Hill Ram Scheme is part of HCC’s five-year Red Meat Development Programme and is funded as part of the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

The Leader Flocks are now nearing completion of their second lambing season as part of the scheme and a second wave of new participants are also in the final stages of their first lambing season.

A second expression of interest window to join the scheme closed in March this year, with a third and final wave of new flocks set to join the scheme in autumn 2020.