Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Life as an EBLEX beef and sheep scientist

Dylan Laws blogs on the far reaching role of life as an EBLEX beef and sheep scientist.

As an EBLEX beef and sheep scientist, our work goes far beyond managing research and development projects.

Not only do we pull together information for up and coming Better Returns Programme documents and develop ideas for new projects, but we also constantly think about what’s going on outside and how it will affect the industry in the short, medium and long term.

This time last year all thoughts were on the rain. When will it stop? How will this effect grass growth, winter feed supplies and bedding? What about fluke?  What do beef and sheep farmers have to know, need to know and want to know?

This year sees some similar problems arising:

·         Silage quality seems good, but yields are not great and there will still be shortages in the New Year.
·         Early yields of winter barley look promising and are closer or better than five-year averages which may help with feed shortages and finisher margins
·         Are ewes going to be in the right condition at tupping?
·         Will rams be fit for purpose at this year’s sales?
·         How early will cows have to be housed this year and for how long?

So it is a welcome distraction when the first round of the sire linkage programme (SLP) comes to an end and a new set of rams can be added the list. 

The SLP is one of the ongoing genetics projects that EBLEX runs. The project has been developed to offer breeds and breeders the opportunity to increase genetic linkage between flocks and strengthen the accuracy of estimated breeding values (EBVs).

Every year sheep breeders are given two opportunities in June and September to nominate rams. The candidates from the ram put forward are then selected to join the SLP. Semen from these rams is then made available free of charge to breeders who wish to use it to increase their genetic linkage.

The end of the first round sees a very good Hampshire ram and one of the highest indexed Texel stock rams in the breed join the scheme. The bar has been set for the next round which will open in September.

The end of this month also sees the closing dates for the EBLEX bull surveys. The surveys were developed to improve our understanding of the production systems of bull breeders and what commercial beef producers look for when buying a bull. The information gathered will help develop a new ‘Fit for Purpose Bulls’ BRP manual which will be released in the New Year.

To complete one of the surveys please follow the links below

Pedigree bull breeders:

Commercial beef or suckler producers: