Thursday, 29 September 2016

RamCompare Update

RamCompare is an innovative project which aims to enable the UK sheep industry to drive genetic improvement forward through the inclusion of commercial data in genetic evaluations. Partners from right along the supply chain are involved and extensive data recording, from birth to slaughter, is being carried out over a two-year period. Bridget Lloyd, RamCompare project co-ordinator, gives an update on how the project is getting on.

It has been a busy yet successful year so far for RamCompare and that’s set to continue as we enter into the second breeding season.
This spring we had a bumper crop of lambs, with over 3,600 born from 39 different sires across the six project farms. Growth has been closely monitored in the following months, with the collection of birth, eight week, 90 day and sale weights. A huge amount of data has been generated which is currently being entered into the Signet Breeding Services database. Initial analysis will take place over the autumn and winter months and so far we are really pleased with the results coming through.

Lambs have been selected for slaughter fortnightly since May and have been processed through either Dunbia or Randall Parker Foods, as part of Sainsbury’s Producer Group. This activity will be drawing to a close soon, with the last group of lambs being processed in November. Saleable meat yield data has been collected from a proportion of female lambs in each sire group and further tenderness testing will now start on loins from this subgroup.
In other news, the second breeding season has begun and we have some great rams joining the project this year. All have estimated breeding values (EBVs) in the top 20 per cent for their breed and provide variety to rams already on test. 24 new, natural service sires have been selected with four placed on each of the six RamCompare farms. These sires will work alongside some of the rams selected last year who will be used for a second season to provide linkage between the years.

A further five rams have been chosen for artificial insemination (AI) and they complement those selected last year, many of whom will be used again this season. Details of all the rams can be found on the Signet website.
A total of 68 rams will be tested over the duration of the project and full analysis of results will be made available from November 2017. Top 25 lists will be produced for rams on test for eight-week weight, scan weight, muscle depth and fat depth EBVs. From the results, new EBVs will be developed for days to slaughter and carcase value and these lists of rams will be published in November 2017. 

If you are interested in an update of the project and seeing some of the rams at work, we are holding an event at Thistleyhaugh Farm, on Wednesday 3 November 2016 in Long Horsley, Northumberland and it would be great to see you there. For more information, email or ring the events office on 01904 771211.

Finally, we have a great opportunity for pedigree producers to access semen from some of our RamCompare sires. The aim is to build genetic linkages between Signet recorded flocks and the RamCompare project. The semen is available free of charge, conditions apply. For more information email

More information on the project and our trial farms can be found on the Signet website.