Welsh farms join progeny test funded by meat industry levy boards
Two Welsh farms have joined the third phase of the RamCompare scheme, a major agricultural research project funded by the levy boards Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), AHDB and QMS.
RamCompare involves partners right along the food supply chain. According to HCC, the project, a national progeny test for terminal sire breeds, was designed to help sheep farmers to achieve the best breeding performance from their flocks and meet the needs of consumers.
The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) reported that by the end of year five of the project, RamCompare has tested 283 rams from 11 breeds with over 26,000 of their progeny. It is, AHDB stated, one of the largest trials of its kind.
The programme is currently funded by the three levy boards and supported by Agrisearch in Northern Ireland.
Following a successful application process, two Welsh farms will join RamCompare this autumn. Both farms have an interest in data collection and flock performance recording and, through RamCompare, will investigate which rams have the right genetic merit for their farm systems.
Alwyn Nutting, owner of the first farm selected, farms in Glascoed near Newtown with his family. They run a herd of suckler beef and a flock of around 800 Aberfield cross, Highlander cross and Welsh ewes.
He explained: “The project will enable us to trial high genetic merit rams of different breeds which are selected on specific traits which are believed to best suit our system.”
Owners of the second selected farm, Stephen and Louise Abberley run a sheep farm in Brecon which includes pedigree Texel and Blue Faced Leicester performance recorded flocks.
Stephen Abberley explained that he applied to be part of RamCompare as he was interested in comparing different breeds “to see how breeding traits could perform differently within their current system.”
He continued: “I am open minded and I look forward to seeing how rams with high index figures will benefit our commercial lamb enterprise.”
HCC research and development officer, Nia Davies, who works closely with the RamCompare team, added: “Over five years, RamCompare has seen that key breeding traits can drive productivity and optimise flock profitability.
“Farms who have been part of RamCompare in the past have experienced the benefits that Estimated Breeding Value based ram selection has on their commercial enterprises, and we are really looking forward to working with both Alwyn and Stephen on this project.”