February 2014

I suppose the weathermen warned a few years ago that global warming would result in increasingly wet winters (which we most certainly have had over the last couple of years), more storms and (still to come) increasingly hot dry summers. If this is a trend, then there are clearly serious implications for all of us. For starters housing ewes earlier and lambing later seems on the cards. Growing grasses that are more able to prosper in these extremes. The list goes on.

We scanned this year at 1.92% a touch down on last year, and start lambing end March. Ewes were housed 6 weeks early as fields looked like WW1 battlefields – not good for the ewes and certainly not good for this year’s grass. Luckily we made surplus and very good haylage. Shearlings are housed separately to avoid bullying at the feed troughs from the old hands. You will note from the rams we are using that I bought a very interesting animal from Derek Steen (Flock 809 4126) and have additionally used one of my own high Index

ram lambs (out of what is beginning to look like a very exciting ram I bought from Ed Collins two years ago – (981 827). At 20 weeks his progeny’s ADWGs were very significantly ahead of his peer group. Time will tell whether he repeats this feat again. A number of his mail progeny will be for sale this summer. Watch this space!

As I write this, a new group of progressive sheep farmers in the UK have established the Performance Recorded Lleyn Group (PRLG), in conjunction with Signet (with the financial help of EBLEX). Some might worry that this could change the Lleyn’s already unique qualities. It is quite clear that this is NOT what the PRLG is setting out to do. It is also worth pointing out that EBVs, at this stage of their development are not a silver bullet guarantee of success. However used in conjunction with such things as ADWGs and common sense, there is very substantial evidence that it is increasingly influencing profitability of sheep enterprises. A lot of work has already been done, and continues to be done, from improving the accuracy of Maternal Ability EBVs to quantifying more accurately the heritability of different genetic traits. By encouraging movement of genetics between flocks by use of semen, ram hire or any other sensible method, the group will improve the genetic links and connectivity throughout UK Lleyn flocks. This will improve accuracy values without losing sight of the unique qualities of the Lleyn. I believe this is sound commercial sense.

If you record and are interested in joining the PRLG please give me a call or contact the PRLG directly via the below website. http://performancerecordedlleynbreedersgroup.wordpress.com

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