Kathleen Hill has recorded the Sampfordel flock of Suffolks since 1997. Carcase attributes have been an important focus at Sampfordel and Kathleen has selected heavily for growth and muscling over the past decade, so it is no surprise her flock has made some of the highest rates of genetic gain within the breed (Table 1).
Kathleen has been able to maintain a closed flock, retaining high health status, with the only new genetics being introduced via AI on an annual basis. The rest of the flock is mated naturally to high index, homebred stock rams, many of which are equivalent genetic merit to the semen purchased. Cockleby Jumping Jack, Ortum Truline and the homebred Sampfordel Hugo, have all been influential sires in recent years.
Success brings its challenges and having focussed on only the very best muscled breeding lines, time has to be taken now to monitor inbreeding. In recent years, this has been carried out using computer software to measure relatedness between potential matings.
Kathleen is a tremendous advocate for all that is good about the Suffolk breed in terms of growth and carcase attributes. Only once did she try semen from an unrecorded show ram. He sits at the bottom of the stock ram list as a reminder that EBVs still provide the best guarantee of performance.
Know your breeding lines
Tips for success
- Make good use of homebred stock rams. They will perform in their home environment
- Study pedigrees carefully and use inbreeding software to help avoid close matings
- Using semen from proven stock rams reduces the risk of fluctuations in indexes, which makes progeny performance even more predictable