Tim and Dot Tyne began recording their Welsh Mountain flock with Signet in 2007, looking to improve the carcass quality and maternal attributes of their lambs. They currently run a closed flock of around 200 ewes, and have maintained the same type of management throughout.
However, through the use of high index rams, and careful selection of female replacements using EBVs, they have greatly improved the performance of their flock. This year the Tynes will take part in the first ever whole breed analysis for Welsh Mountain sheep, and Tim believes that “with more flocks recording, the rate of genetic progress will be even quicker in the future”.
One of the main ways that the Tynes have improved their flock’s performance is through the selection of replacement ewes. All ewe lambs that are retained are selected solely on their EBVs, and Tim says that “the primary criteria for culling or drafting older ewes out of the flock is their index”. This has led to an increase in the average index of the lambs within the flock of 100 index points since 2008. With the average index now at 200, this closely equates to the Top 10% of the breed.
The Tynes have seen the commercial benefits of this improvement through the changes in the lambs they have been sending for slaughter. Despite having made no significant alterations to their management system, Tim has observed carcase weights increase from around 10kg, to having many now consistently achieving 18-20kg deadweight.
Not only have the lambs increased in weight and growth rate, but the couple have seen great positive advancements in the specific EBVs for muscling within their flock. Their lambs now average a muscle depth EBV within the Top 10% of the breed – a major increase compared to just 6 years ago. This has led to their carcase grades improving from predominantly O & P grades to an increasing proportion of R and even some U grades.
The Tyne’s have seen the improvements that are achievable through performance recording first hand and would very much like to encourage more sheep farmers both within the breed and outside to take up performance recording and improve the data available.
More information on Welsh Mountain recording can be found here.
You can see an example of a high EBV Welsh Mountain stock ram here.
Lucy Webb-Wilson – Signet