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Hampshire Down Makes Strong Genetic Gains

24 August 2015

UK – Both better lamb performance and higher returns are achievable through harnessing Hampshire Down genetics.

Scanning weights of average lambs can be around 1.8 kilos heavier than they were five years ago, according to Sam Boon of genetics company Signet.

He underlined the performance of this year’s top 10 per cent of the breed, stating they had the potential to be a further 2.6 kilos heavier than average lambs at scanning time.

“This is a massive difference at farm level where top 10 per cent sires could increase Hampshire Down sired lamb sold deadweight off the farm by approximately half a tonne for an average flock of 500 ewes,” said Mr Boon.

“The retailer will also benefit from carcases with high yields of lean meat. Additionally, it means that these lambs are more efficient; they will reach target weight earlier thereby freeing up more grass dry matter for the rest of the flock, hitting an earlier market and reducing inputs, including labour and vet and med.”

Because Hampshire Down pedigrees are held on performance database BASCO, he said all animals in the population, whether recorded are not, area included in analyses, informing how breeders are recording progress, demonstrating genetic gain in the breed.

Richard Davis of the breed association said the gains were impressive and reflected breeders’ commitment to performance recording.

He added: “Higher volumes of performance recorded lambs will increase the accuracy of the evaluations and in turn, enable even faster rates of improvement within the breed which we’ve agreed to challenge in what must be the industry’s ultimate performance test – the RamCompare project.

“At the same time, breeders are also making sure they retain the Hampshire Down’s native characteristics, its hardiness, longevity and its ability to leave lively lambs.”

TheSheepSite News Desk

Top image via Shutterstock

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