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Tips to make sure your tup is up to task

With tup buying time looming, the Scottish Sheep Strategy is offering farmers the opportunity increase their understanding of how using EBVs can help their profitability.

The Quality Meat Scotland funded Scottish Sheep Strategy is holding a series of workshops to help farmers hone their stock selection skills, and show how performance figures can help develop targeted traits within your flock and to help increase your financial returns.

Strategy Development Manager, Rod McKenzie, said: “This is an ideal chance to realise that beauty is only skin deep, and a ram’s genetic potential has a much bigger impact than his looks. It’s like looking under the bonnet of a car to see the engine and having more confidence in the future performance.

“It enables you to target the traits you want in a tup, and gives you more control over what you want your flock to achieve in coming years. It should be of interest not only keepers of sheep, but even those who buy store lambs will find something to help your bottom line.”

The Benefits of Better Breeding in the Scottish Sheep Sector has consistently demonstrated that sheep producers can achieve greater margins by using a High Index recorded sire. A higher return of more than £20 per ewe has been shown in the latest results the project.

The Hazelbank trial near Lockerbie with purebred Lleyns has shown that High Index sired lambs have left gross sales worth £20.49 per ewe more than returns from Low Index sired lambs.

Rod McKenzie will give practical advice on how the figures can be used for the various breeds from a breeder’s perspective, and the Signet team will show how this type of genetic progress can help a flock’s performance.

The opportunities from harnessing these tools were underlined with the recently published year three results from the ‘Better Breeding’ project.

Rod said: “In August 2008 on one of the farms the lambs were split into their three sire groups and, almost to a man, the community group decided that the lambs sired by the low index tups were the best bunch. The lambs were then drawn and those which were fit were slaughtered.

“The lambs from the high index group produced 559.9 kgs of saleable carcase and those lambs from the “best group” i.e. the low index group produce 284.5 kgs of saleable carcase. The difference of 275.4 kgs resulted in an additional £812.43 for that particular week. This should be a salutary lesson to us all!”

For more information about the Scottish Sheep Strategy, visit www.scottishsheepstrategy.org.uk