25 November 2000
Project boosts Welsh national flock
A UNIQUE project is improving the quality of sheep at the Royal Smithfield Show, writes Farmers Weekly Wales correspondent Robert Davies.
The Welsh Sheep Strategy is an ambitious attempt to use the best genetics to raise the standard of the many breeds making up the Welsh national sheep flock.
In some cases that is achieved by introducing high genetic merit sires.
In others, rams are performance-tested to develop sire reference schemes that use technologies such as ultrasonics, artificial insemination and embryo transfer.
Many top flockmasters who sell breeding stock have grouped their best ewes, as identified by breed characteristics in special nucleus flocks to breed elite sheep.
The schemes backers, which include the Meat and Livestock Commission, claim progress can be seen whether stock is shown at Smithfield or a local market.
Hill ewes are a bit bigger, but have lost none of their hardiness and strong maternal traits. Their lambs grow slightly quicker and have better conformation.