Know How / Sheep / Breeding and fertility

Good breeding and fertility management in sheep flocks is key to achieving the best lamb crop. Find the latest advice on issues from ram and ewe genetics, ovulation and conception rates, to scanning, condition scoring, breeds, tup management and lambing.

Case studies

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SHEEP

How outcrossing achieved table-topping growth rates

Selecting leading proven terminal sires has resulted in lambs that finished 30 days faster on average for a Yorkshire sheep breeder. George Fell, who runs a flock of 500 Meatlinc…

SHEEP

How sheep dairy new entrant has doubled size of flock

A new entrant to dairy sheep farming has doubled his flock size less than a year after buying his first ewes, amid strengthening demand for milk. Huw Jones secured a…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How Mules can rise to the challenge of rival sheep breeds

Mule breeders have been mounting a response to the challenge of other sheep breeds in recent years. Widely recognised as the leading commercial sheep, the combination of a hardy, maternal…

SHEEP

Welsh farmers tap into niche market with 'new' breed of lamb

Two Welsh sheep farmers are introducing Asian, goat-like sheep genetics into their flocks to create a new income stream. Peter Williams and Bedwyr Jones have six purebred Damara lambs and…

SHEEP

How shearing lambs can improve growth and reduce labour

Removing the fleeces of lambs is helping lift growth rates and improve flock management on a Welsh farm. Debbie James reports. Shearing every lamb in its first summer is increasing growth rates by up to 20g a…

SHEEP

How Swaledale breeders found tups with better performance

A group of pioneering farmers have overcome the inherent challenges of performance recording hill breeds to make significant genetic progress in their Swaledale flocks. The three-year AHDB project has ended,…

Practical advice

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SHEEP

Replacement options for flocks: breeding or buying

To maintain a healthy and productive flock, whether expanding or not, inevitably means you will need replacements each year. For some farmers, buying in will be the preferred option while…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How to make best use of teaser tups to tighten lambing

Teaser rams – those that have been vasectomised – can help tighten the lambing period by stimulating ewe ovulation. This can maximise the number of lambs born at the beginning…

SHEEP

Advice for buying rams and observing quarantine protocols

More rams are likely to be sold direct off-farm this year due to the cancellation of some breeding sales under Covid-19 restrictions. That means asking for a “bill of health”…

LIVESTOCK MARKETING

Alternatives to selling livestock at markets this autumn

Ongoing social distancing restrictions and the uncertainty surrounding some breeding stock sales mean farmers may have to think about alternative ways to buy and sell their stock. The backend of the…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How to recognise and manage ringwomb in livestock in labour

Ringwomb is also known as incomplete dilation of the cervix more than six hours after foetal membranes appear at the vulva. If the onset of first-stage labour was missed (in…

SHEEP

Advice on buying a ram: What to look for

As the main ram buying period draws near, selecting tups that have the potential to improve performance and profitability is a priority for commercial sheep producers. Rams play a crucial…

Insights

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BREEDING AND FERTILITY

5 tips from NZ to increase sheep flock returns by 30%

UK sheep farmers can achieve a 30% increase in flock gross margins by adopting five principles used in New Zealand, a consultant claims. Murray Rohloff says while benefits will vary…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How Ram Compare could add £5 to lamb value

A national terminal sire sheep evaluation project has identified rams that can finish faster and at better grades on nine commercial sheep farms across the UK. Over the past four…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Livestock gene editing: Current rules and potential benefits

The potential to make our own legislation after leaving the EU could provide scope for gene editing of livestock to become mainstream in the UK. Gene editing changes a precise…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Sheep AI trial shows frozen semen possibilities

Farmers wishing to improve conception rates by using cervical insemination in combination with frozen semen could learn from a recent Farming Connect study. Cervical AI using fresh semen is not…

LIVESTOCK

CT scanning set to influence terminal and maternal traits

Computerised tomography (CT) scanning has demonstrated its value in sheep carcass improvements and could be used to play a role in lambing ease prediction. A range of measurements such as…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How EBVs can help hill farmers meet lamb market needs

A declining market in light lamb specifications means hill farmers need to adapt to meet new demands. This is according to geneticist Janet Roden from Aberystwyth, who believes genetic improvement…

Is performance recording hill breeds a waste of time?

Major opportunities to boost sheep profit and performance are being missed when sheep breeders shun performance recording, warn leading geneticists. New figures from AHDB Beef and Lamb show genetic gains…

LIVESTOCK

Farmers find key to improving Beulah Speckled Face flocks

Lamb weights at 20 weeks of age in performance-recorded Beulah Speckled Face sheep are increasing by an average of 0.15kg/year, according to a study. The figures were compiled during a…

LIVESTOCK

Combined breed analysis sparks debate in sheep industry

Plans to introduce a combined breed analysis in sheep in a similar manner to the dairy evaluation have been met with some reservation from the UK sheep industry. UK genetic…

LIVESTOCK

Top 5 GB sheep breeds revealed in Eblex survey

Few subjects are as likely to stir up emotion among sheep farmers more than breed choice. Some stick to the breed used by their ancestors while others embrace modern breeds.…

Sheep AI allows sheep farmers to invest in superior rams

There are massive opportunities for commercial sheep flocks to benefit from cervical artificial insemination (AI) and there is still time for farmers to consider trialling it this autumn. One benefit…

Trace element bolus aids sheep embryo productivty

Ensuring the right levels of trace elements before tupping can improve productivity. Farmers Weekly reports on the latest research. Strategic management of key trace elements in breeding ewes has increased…