2013-04-22 xml
New Maternal Index to help Suffolk Breed Selection

A new tool has been produced to help sheep producers with their selection decisions when looking for Suffolk rams to produce more productive daughters.

The new Maternal Index, developed by Signet Breeding Services which forms part of EBLEX, provides vital information that cannot be obtained from a visual inspection of a ram. The index, places a greater emphasis on the Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) for production of milk and litter size.

Suffolk Lambs

It is designed to help breeders to identify sires that can be used to breed more productive females that will in turn enhance lamb survival and pre-weaning growth. The maternal index is particularly useful within self-replacing flocks, where the number of lambs reared to weaning has a major impact on flock profitability.

High levels of genetic progress have already been achieved using the Suffolk Terminal Sire Breeding Index. The average breeding potential for lamb growth rate to 21 weeks of age has increased by almost 6kg since 1990. This genetic improvement has a massive impact across the industry.

Samuel Boon, EBLEX breeding specialist, said: “Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are an important guide when selecting rams and absolutely vital for maternal traits as a visual inspection of a ram tells you nothing about the potential productivity of his daughters.”

David Rossiter, chairman of the Suffolk Performance Recording Committee, said: “The new index will be useful to both the breeders of Suffolk sheep retaining their own replacements and commercial sheep producers seeking productive Suffolk cross ewes. This new index will be a major asset in assessing the maternal strengths within the Suffolk breed.”


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