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

4 changes a young farmer made to family sheep farm

When young farmer Catherine Sanderson was gifted a third of her grandparents’ farming business, she knew she wanted to help drive it forward without stepping on their toes. Grandparents Ken…

GRASSLAND MANAGEMENT

How hill farmers keep production costs to £43 a ewe

Penny Chantler and her sons, William and Sam Sawday, are improving profitability at the 188ha Hill Farm, Llanigon, Hay-on-Wye, by keeping production costs in their sheep enterprise low at just…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Exlana genetics thrive in new entrant's low-input setup

As a new entrant into farming, rough, unimproved grazing was all James Edwards could get, so he knew he had to opt for a low-input sheep breed that would thrive…

LIVESTOCK

How outdoor lambers lifted twinning rate to 67%

Close attention to ewe body condition score and a strict culling policy in a two-flock system has helped lift twinning rates 12% at a Wiltshire farm. Stonehill Romneys – the…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How collaborative group is helping breeders market sheep

A group of progressive sheep breeders from across the UK have established a Maternal Sheep Group (MSG). The farmers are selecting for maternal ability alongside carcass traits to supply commercial…

GRASSLAND MANAGEMENT

How organic farmers plan to become more efficient

Edryd and Glenda Davies are making more from marginal mountain ground by mob and rotational grazing to improve grassland so they can operate a low-cost forage-based system and finish lambs…

Practical advice

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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…

ASSESSING PERFORMANCE

Advice on selecting flock replacements

Ewe productivity is linked directly to flock profitability so selecting replacements is crucial to future performance. Foot and udder health, the condition of teeth and mouth and overall body condition…

SHEEP

Why cross-bred tups are on the rise

Commercial sheep producers have long seen the benefits of hybrid vigour (heterosis) in cross-bred dam lines but a trend now suggests flockmasters are seeing the benefits cross-bred rams (paternal heterosis).…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Guide to CT scanning and how it can benefit your flock

Computed Tomography (CT) scanning is improving the national sheep flock, allowing breeders to select their best animals to breed from and providing commercial lamb producers with tups that deliver traits…

SHEEP

6 ways to make your teaser rams work for you

Using teasers can be used to bring lambing forward by around a fortnight or dramatically reduce lambing periods to a week to 10 days in length.   The benefits of…

Insights

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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…

LIVESTOCK

How New Zealand breeds for smaller ewe size

Should we be looking to breed smaller ewes in the UK to improve efficiency? Jeremy Hunt takes a look at what New Zealand sheep farmers are doing. Bigger may not…