The RamCompare project is a two-year pilot project that began in May 2015, designed to trial strategies for capturing commercial data on slaughter lambs in the UK sheep industry. It will be similar to central progeny tests that are taking place in Australia, New Zealand and Ireland.
The first stage of the project involved developing a network of six commercial farms that will use artificial insemination (AI) and single-sire mating to produce a crop of over 500 lambs per farm per year. In the UK sheep industry the sire of slaughter lambs is not usually known, so this approach will enable sire information to be collected.
In Phase I of RamCompare, 70 rams from five breeds – Texel, Suffolk, Charollais, Hampshire Down and Meatlinc – have been tested across these flocks over the 2016 and 2017 lambing seasons. The rams are representative of the top 20 per cent of their breed based on their estimated breeding values (EBVs) and the AI sires will have good linkage with other pedigree flocks.
Data from their lambs will be collected through to slaughter. This data will be evaluated to see whether its inclusion in the rams’ genetic evaluations identifies differences between sires and improves their accuracy. A ranking of the tested rams, based on commercially important traits, will be generated at the end of the project. Final lists will be published early in 2018.
The RamCompare project involves partners from right along the UK sheep industry supply chain. It is financed by AHDB Beef and Lamb, Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), Quality Meat Scotland, Agrisearch and Sainsbury's 'Big Data' Agriculture R&D Grant Scheme. There are a further ten project partners involved.
Six commercial sheep producers have signed up to progeny test rams from RamCompare, including Sion Williams from Buccleuch Estates in Selkirk. Information about Sion's involvement in the project can be found in the links to the right of this page.
For more information about the RamCompare project, please visit the RamCompare website