SHEEP 2018: Looking to make an extra €5/ewe/year?

Crowds flocked to Teagasc Athenry for SHEEP 2018 and they were provided with a wealth of information when it comes to breeding.

One of the more interesting topics up for discussion on the day was the benefits that can be achieved by using a 5-star ram versus a 1-star ram.

Sheep Ireland programme manager Kevin McDermott pointed to recent research which found that flocks that consistently use 5-star rams – to breed factory lambs and replacements – see an extra €5/ewe/year profit.

When comparing the progeny of 5-star and 1-star rams (terminal index), McDermott said that the progeny of 5-star sires are 2.5-3.0kg heavier at weaning time.

The organisation had a demonstration on the day, which exhibited the progeny of these rams. He noted that farmers struggled to notice the difference between those sired by 5-star rams and those sired by 1-star rams until they were actually placed on the weighing scales.

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There are also benefits in terms of lambing ease and lamb survivability. Discussing results from the Central Progeny Test (CPT) programme, McDermott said that lambing difficulty is 5% less in 5-star sires than 1-star sires.

“You are also making gains at lambing time, not just when the lambs are going to the factory,” he noted.