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Stackyard News May 08

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New Manual Focuses on Improving Ewe Breeding

EBLEX Ltd has launched a new manual this week at the Poll Dorset Sheep Breeders Association May Fair, at the Exeter Livestock Centre, Devon.

Improving ewe breeding for Better Returns

Called ‘Improving ewe breeding for Better Returns’, it has been written to help sheep farmers select female breeding stock that will better suit their farming system and the intended markets for their progeny.

Published as part of the Sheep Better Returns Programme, the booklet covers all the issues that need to be considered when breeding or buying-in replacements.

“Breeding more productive ewes can enhance flock profitability significantly,” says EBLEX breeding specialist Samuel Boon, who helped to compile the publication.

“But making the right breeding decisions is not a simple task. There are a wide range of traits to be considered, many of which cannot be assessed visually. In this manual we show how using tools such as EBVs can help.

“For example, we take a close look at the maternal traits that influence the number of lambs reared per ewe – which is a key driver of profitability.

“Selecting rams with high Litter Size EBVs will increase lamb numbers produced by their female offspring, while selecting for Maternal Ability will ensure ewes have sufficient milk to rear their lambs.

“Although litter size heritability is not high, significant progress can be made by selecting rams and ewes using the Litter Size EBV. This is a more reliable way of enhancing prolificacy than simply selecting rams reared as twins or triplets.”

Chris Lloyd, industry development manager for EBLEX went on to say: “We felt it was appropriate to launch this manual at the May Fair, as this is the first sale of the year when buyers will have an eye on the ability of the rams to influence the maternal traits in their flock.

“These traits are becoming increasingly important for many buyers and we hope this booklet will be of value to them.”

The manual, which also details how to draw up a breeding plan and how to identify potential replacements and culls, will be posted to all sheep producers signed up to the Sheep Better Returns Programme. English levy payers, who are not signed up can obtain a copy by calling 0870 241 8829 or emailing

link Easy Care Traits Available in Suffolks
link Second NSA Early Ram Sale Planned
link English Lambs Improve in Carcase Quality

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Sheep Better Returns Programme