Improving the sheep flock
Project helps to permanently improve Welsh flock
A two year project aimed at increasing knowledge among Welsh farmers about the breeding attributes of their flock has seen a major improvement in the genetics of Welsh sheep.
An independent evaluation into the HCC Elite Ram Project said that it had exceeded its objectives by improving the knowledge among farmers on selecting rams on Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs).
It has also led to a permanent improvement of the genetics of the Welsh flock and will contribute a continued economic benefit to the industry.
The Elite Ram Project was launched by Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) in 2010 using funding through the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007 - 2013.
The project involved an online training programme to update and inform farmers knowledge of what EBVs are and how they could benefit a business.
Upon completion of the training, farmers were issued with a voucher they could use worth up to £400 towards the purchase of a performance recorded ram.
The report from Brookdale Consulting found that following the project, there was a significant change to farmer's attitudes and behaviour towards the use of EBVs and would likely lead to further improvement in the future.
The results from a survey of farmers showed that before the project, EBVs were considered to be the third or fourth factor to take into account when buying a ram.
This became the first or second most important factor after the project.
The report also highlighted three main benefits to those who participated in the project:
- Improved growth rates
- Improved conformation
- Lambs achieved better grades at the abattoir
Dewi Hughes, HCC's Project Executive said: "The aim of this project was to increase the knowledge among Welsh farmers on selecting rams on EBVs and how to choose a ram that best meets the requirements of their business."
In total, 2,179 farmers completed the online training programme, with 1,174 rams purchased through the scheme.
"Originally we had hoped that around 1,000 farmers would register for this project, we had nearly 2,500 sign up, representing 1.2 million sheep, a third of the total Welsh flock" said Mr Hughes.
"We were delighted with the response from farmers towards this project and the feedback we have had has been overwhelmingly positive."
Farming News Daily Supporting British Pig Farmers
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.