news, features, articles and disease information for the sheep industry

All the latest news forSheep | Goats | Llamas | Alpaca


Maximise EBV Benefits by Checking Ram Credentials On-line

30 June 2014

UK - Commercial interest in recorded rams has increased considerably over the last 10 years, according to a recent EBLEX survey. But ensuring the optimum genetics are purchased for the flock can be boosted by looking on the internet.

With an investment in a performance recorded ram with high Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) shown to be worth an extra £800-£1000 over his working lifetime, extra genetic information can be valuable.

Information about breeding potential (EBVs/Indexes) is now often displayed at sales on sale cards, breeding charts and in catalogues. However, more information can be downloaded for most Signet recorded flocks from the website using the “EBV search” facility.

The search enables potential purchasers to identify how many lambs a flock has produced that meet their breeding requirements. Breeding charts for rams of interest can then be generated and printed.

These charts provide a graphical illustration of the relative superiority or inferiority of a ram’s genetic merit compared with the breed average. In general, bars to the right show above average performance – for example, more muscling and, due to a recent change in data presentation, fatter progeny.

When purchasing a terminal sire, growth and muscling is always important. The relative emphasis placed on each trait will vary depending on when lambs are to be sold, daily costs of production and whether they are sold on a live, deadweight or store basis.

The emphasis placed on the Fat Depth EBV will also vary depending on the system, For example, if too many overfat lambs are being produced, then leaner sires can be sought. Where rams with the genetic potential for extremely high growth and muscling are being used, a slightly more positive Fat Depth EBV should help lambs achieve the optimum level of finish at slaughter.

If female replacements are to be kept, consider the Litter Size EBV, which is an indicator of prolificacy in daughters, and the Maternal Ability EBV, which is an indicator of breeding potential for milk production. Apply appropriate selection pressure to each trait according to the breed and desired level of performance in replacement ewes.

When using EBVs, buyers should ensure:
• The most recent data is checked, with most breeds analysed two or three times through the year
• Accuracy values are noted, as these indicate how much is known about an animal, including whether it has been weighed, ultrasound scanned or CT scanned
• Consider whether rams have been CT scanned, as this can identify elite genetics
• Check a flock’s genetic trends for year-on-year improvements
• The structural soundness of the ram has been assessed to ensure he is fit, fertile and will have a long working life, and the flock health status has been checked to avoid introducing disease.


TheSheepSite News Desk

Our Sponsors


Seasonal Picks

The Intuitive Farmer: Inspiring Management Success