Sheep performance recording ‘could help regain 25%’

Performance recording could help sheep producers regain the missing 25% in sheep sale returns.

According to Stuart Annand, a Scottish sheep strategy development officer with Quality Meat Scotland, performance recording will be vital to create a flock that produces prime lambs efficiently and profitably from forage and from a quantified genetic base.

“The opportunity for increasing returns lies inside the farmgate of every flock, regardless of farm type or breed,” he told farmers at a meeting in the north of Scotland.

“Whether your motivation is for better replacement ewe lambs or simply heavier store/prime lambs, there is an estimated breeding value (EBV) that, when correctly applied, will hasten your progress towards profitable, sustainable lamb production.”

Typically this season about 25-30% has been eroded from the sale price of most lambs. This drop can be attributed to exchange rates, faltering consumer demand and simple supply fundamentals.

To regain a position of profitability, he urged producers to consider the following outcomes that would each deliver the “missing 25%”, equating to £11.50 a ewe for an average hill flock.

• Increasing lamb daily liveweight gain by 60g/day from birth to weaning and improving ewe performance by £10.80

• Increasing the weight of lambs weaned per ewe by 6kg equating to an £11.10 a ewe improvement

• Increasing scanning-to-sale percentage by 20%, resulting in a £12.00 a ewe improvement

• Reducing costs of machinery, feed and labour by 20%, resulting in a £17 a ewe boost.

“Taking stock and reviewing where your flock is at present in terms of performance is crucial in building a plan to go forward,” he said.

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