The latest results from the RamCompare project have seen a re-ranking of some rams based on their carcase weight estimated breeding values (EBV).

Since preliminary results were released in November 2017, the data set has been updated to include records from later-lambing flocks not included in the first run.

The analysis has also been modified to enhance the way hybrid vigour is taken into account which has caused a shift in the tables.

Penygelli, PAP1501802, a Texel ram bred by Alwyn Philips, has moved into the top position for the carcase weight EBV and overall carcase merit.

Penygelli PAP1501802 is a high-index ram sired by Boghouse Ultramuscle, one of Alwyn’s stock rams.

Boghouse Ultramuscle was sold to RamCompare and is being progeny tested this year on the project farm run by the Edwards family in Wales.

Alwyn Philips said: “From the project’s inception, I immediately nominated my rams to be put to the test. It is a fantastic opportunity for them to be tested under commercial conditions against their top-performing peers.

“More and more pressure is put on commercial systems to reduce costs and to utilise grass and home-grown forages.

“My breeding decisions have focused on rams that perform exceedingly well in grass-based systems specifically in terms of muscling and growth.”

Breed changes

The Charollais breed has a new leading sire, with Logiedurno Navigator 13ZNN07239, sitting high in the overall rankings for carcase weight EBV and carcase value.

Among the Suffolk rams tested, Whichford First Class, bred by Bruce Cook, has now joined the list of the highest ranked Suffolk rams for carcase weight EBV.

Bridget Lloyd, RamCompare project coordinator, said: “With all rams from the first two breeding seasons now included, the final results tables show a slight repositioning.

“This will continue to happen each year as more rams are included in the trial with data regularly coming in from the farms and abattoirs.

“Genetic linkage between years and farms is important for the project so certain rams are used for more than one season. Artificial insemination with frozen semen is also used to ensure linkage, with some of this semen being made available to other recorded breeders to develop wider links.

Many ram breeders are following the project closely and access to this semen provides them with the opportunity to compare the genetic merit of their flock to those rams used on the project, as well as trying new breeding lines.

“This year, several new Suffolk rams have been put forward due to the generosity of the Bridfa Suffolk breeding group and one of these will have a special role within the project as a reference ram.”

Drinkstone Distinction (Y68:A20) will be used on all eight RamCompare farms, with his lambs creating a link between each farm to enable comparisons to be made.

Distinction was born in 2002 and was an elite sire in his day with over 460 progeny.

He is still an important sire with an index in the top 5% of the Suffolk breed. His semen is available to breeders who want to use him as a benchmark within their own flocks.