Sheep Ireland has no plans to verify breeders’ data

Sheep Ireland, a subsidiary of the ICBF, has no plans to verify the data submitted by individual breeders under the LambPlus programme.

Speaking at a recent industry meeting at the Teagasc Campus in Athenry, Co. Galway, Eamon Wall said approximately 60% of all flocks are visited through the ultra-scanning process, but no breeder checks are currently being carried out.

“We have things like the DQI (Data Quality Index) to ensure that the data is recorded correctly and in a timely fashion,” he said.

“The ultimate validation is the work that is being done within our own CPT (Central Progeny Testing) and Teagasc flocks, which compares the performance of these rams.

“They are showing fairly nice differences between five-star and one-star animals across the traits and that’s what we want to see,” he said.

Data Quality Index and Central Progeny Testing

The Data Quality Index (DQI) rates flocks based on the quality and quantity of data recorded for the flock over the previous year. The target DQI score is set at 80% or higher.

The DQI reflects three aspects of your data recording:
  • Completeness: Have you recorded all available information on the Sheep Ireland database?
  • Timeliness: Have you recorded this data in a prompt manner?
  • Quality: Have you accurately recorded this data?

Meanwhile, rams are also tested under the Central Progeny Testing (CPT) programme and through the Teagasc Better Sheep Farm Programme.

CPT was established as a ram and trait comparison and it is focused on identifying the best sheep genetics, regardless of breed.

Semen is collected from a number of rams and is used to breed approximately 2,000 ewes, by means of AI, in various flocks throughout the country.

The performance of the resulting progeny is monitored from birth to slaughter.

Concern among breeders

Wall admitted that he was aware that there was concern among some in relation to how the data was being recorded by some breeders.

“I understand there is a concern among commercial farmers and breeders participating in the programme, especially the breeders that are doing the thing 100%, that there are some breeders that aren’t.

“I would be nervous about going down the road of inspecting individual breeders. We wouldn’t be able to visit every flock. We just wouldn’t be able to do that.

“Maybe we should do spot checks and it’s something that we will discuss later on. It’s maybe something we could do in co-ordination with breed societies,” he concluded.