Farmers need to use the ram star index when choosing their rams according to Joe Hand, agricultural advisor at Teagasc.

“The higher the ram rating the better. It could be the difference in 3kg in weight on your lambs,” he said today speaking at the Teagasc Better Farm Sheep Programme in Kilkenny.

For best results Hand advised farmers to combine the ram star index with Teagasc’s efficiency index, which takes into account ewe body size and number of lambs weaned. Heavier ewe body sizes are penalised due to greater maintenance required.

Also speaking at the show, Michael Gottstein from Teagasc, spoke of the importance of genetics when breeding lambs.

“The star rating does not work if cross breeding,” Gottstein said at today’s event. He outlined what to look for when choosing a ram including strong feet, no abscess in the mouth which could affect feeding and weight, and no diseases on the ram’s penis.

Michael Diskin, from animal and grassland research in Teagasc, also spoke at the event on the importance of events. “Raddle your rams,” he told those in attendance. “It is important you know which lamb came from which ram.”

Brian Nicholson’s farm was the location for the event today, where the better farm sheep programme has been used for the past year. The farm has seen an increase from 47 per cent to 62.3 per cent on pregnancies in the flock.

Pictured Joe Hand, agricultural advisor at Teagasc