Composites offer genetic progress

4 August 2000

Composites offer genetic progress

COMPOSITES rather than numerous different sheep breeds are the way forward if the sheep industry wants to make substantial genetic progress, according to the MLCs Huw Thomas.

Mr Thomas believes the Welsh Sheep Strategy should use its resources to investigate composites in preparation for a time when there is less restriction on breeds qualifying for HLCA payments.

"There are guidelines on which breeds qualify for these payments, however breeding a hardy but more productive and profitable ewe should be a priority," he said. "There is an opportunity to develop paternal and maternal lines."

Paternal lines would be bred with emphasis on characteristics such as growth rate and muscularity, with maternal lines bred for prolificacy, milk supply and easy lambing, suggested Mr Thomas.

"Work in New Zealand using a female line which is half Romney, one quarter Texel and one quarter Finnish Landrace has produced an animal with extra milk, prolificacy and length as well as increasing the carcass weight of her progeny.

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