Sheep farmers can make up to £6 a lamb more by selecting rams with the most suitable traits to improve flock performance and profitability.
The five-year results from the RamCompare project, published on 20 May, reveal how rams with key breeding traits can drive productivity and optimise flock profitability.
Signet’s breeding manager, Sam Boon, urges breeders to focus on those traits that deliver the greatest profit to their system and source recorded rams with the right estimated breeding values (EBVs) to deliver them.
See also: Advice on buying a ram: What to look for
“With the groups of high genetic merit sires used, we have identified differences in progeny values worth £4-£6 a lamb,” he says. “This equates to £1,200-£1,500 a ram during its working lifetime.
“Few rams can do it all: some will excel for carcass conformation, others for speed of finish. Producers should evaluate their system and determine which sires have the potential to make the biggest financial impact.”
RamCompare uses nominated performance-recorded rams from various terminal sire breeds on commercial farms across the UK. To date, the project has recorded the performance of more than 26,000 lambs sired by 280 rams through artificial insemination and natural mating over five seasons.
Six different breeds top at least one of the RamCompare leader tables.
Leading ram for scan weight EBV (speed of growth) is Hampshire Down Kelsey Brahma (18U1600407), bred by D Smith and J Atkinson and owned by Stuart Friswell.
Texel ram Callerton Bugatti (SRC1800618), bred by MD Sym and nominated by Matt Hobbs, is top for overall carcass merit index and carcass weight EBVs, followed by Strathbogie Youi (IJS1600756), bred by James Innes and Sons and owned by the Claybury flock.
Both rams are also in the top five Texels for carcass conformation EBV, with Strathbogie Youi holding top spot for the breed.
Foulrice Tempest (18DG08105), bred by CW Marwood and Son and provided by Andrew Walton (ChazCompare), leads the way for carcass conformation EBV in a group of seven Charollais rams bred by the Foulrice, Lowerye, Redhill and Rainbow flocks.
Some rams perform well for several economically important traits such as carcass weight and conformation.
For example, Charollais sire Dalby Ranieri (16PE04907), bred by Charles Sercombe, was provided as the artificial insemination linkage ram for the 2020 season. He is one of the top five Charollais for overall carcass merit and carcass weight this year, sitting in the top 5% of Signet’s terminal sire evaluation.
Top ram for best haunch weight (gigot) EBV is Texel Antur Boomer (AAA1812526) from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, while Southdown ram Andersey (883:170545), from Rob Beaumont, holds on to the middle loin weight (muscle across the loin) EBV for the second year running.
Several Hampshire Downs also feature strongly in this trait. And Texel ram Barnage (MWB1802626), bred by WK and CA Martyn, tops the front weight (shoulder) EBV.
The full list of results is available at the Ramcompare website.