New Welsh hill ram scheme aims to improve flock genetics

A five-year project to encourage more Welsh hill farmers to use performance-recorded rams has been launched by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC).

With seven leader flocks on board for the first year and a target of 35 flocks by the end of the five years, the aim is to enhance genetic improvement to help produce lambs that meet market specifications.

Participants will be using the latest technology, including DNA parentage, to record genetic data and monitor KPIs (key performance indicators). There are also plans for a performance-recorded hill ram sale to help farmers market their flocks.

See also: Video guide on selecting lambs for slaughter

Scheme benefits

The scheme organisers are hoping that the scheme will also benefit the Welsh lamb industry as a whole, as genetics from hill flocks filter through to lowland flocks in the stratified system.

HCC’s Gwawr Parry, who leads the Hill Ram Scheme explained: “Typically Welsh hill flocks produce lighter lambs; traditional markets for these lambs have declined in recent years. The use of improved genetics in hill flocks will allow farmers to target growth and finishing – ultimately producing lambs that suit a wider range of markets.”

She added that increasing the efficiency of systems should enable farms to be more financially resilient and create the potential for farmers to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

The scheme is part of the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-20, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh government.

Hill ram scheme meetings

For those interested in learning more, there are a series of meetings in February. The meeting dates and venues are:

  • 7/2/2019 – The Goat Inn, Bryncir, 7-9pm
  • 12/2/2019 – Eagles Hotel, Llanrwst, 7-9pm
  • 13/2/2019 – Royal Ship Hotel, Dolgellau, 7-9pm
  • 19/2/2019 – The Talbot, Tregaron, 7-9pm
  • 20/2/2019 – Whitehouse Country Inn, Sennybridge, 7-9pm

To register interest or for more information, please email or phone 01970 626050.

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