Recording perfomance is vital for sheep industry

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Sheep farmers have been urged to take up performance recording to ensure the industry can build its “flock of the future” by Stuart Annand, Scottish sheep strategy development officer with Quality Meat Scotland.

“Performance recording is not a new idea but it will be vital in the creation of a flock which produces prime lambs efficiently and profitably from forage and from a quantified genetic base,” he said

Annand pointed to the genetic advancement which has been well proven in the pig and poultry industries, and said the sheep industry should also take advantage of the opportunity for greater profitability offered.

“In the Scottish flock we have animals with proven production traits in both maternal and terminal traits, which can contribute positively to the financial performance of breeders willing to apply them.”

He advised producers attending a series of meetings in the north of Scotland that they had to consider what they wanted to achieve.

“Taking stock and reviewing where your flock is at present in terms of performance, is crucial”

He added: “The opportunity for increasing returns lies inside the farm gate of every flock, regardless of farm type or breed. Whether your motivation is for better replacement ewe lambs or simply heavier store or prime lambs, there is an estimated breeding value which, when correctly applied, will hasten your progress towards profitable, sustainable lamb production.”

Typically this season around 25-30 per cent has been eroded from the sale price of most lambs. This drop could be attributed to adverse exchange rates, faltering consumer demand and simple supply fundamentals.

To regain a position of profitability, he urged producers to consider a series of small, focused changes in flock management which could collectively make a significant difference to the bottom line.

These included increasing lamb daily liveweight gain, increasing the weight of lambs weaned per ewe, increasing scanning to sale percentage by 20 per cent resulting in a £12 per ewe improvement or reducing costs of machinery, feed and labour.