Sheep Ireland to offer free parentage recording service for hill farmers

Sheep Ireland is to continue offering free parentage recording services to hill sheep farmers around Ireland.

Eamon Wall of Sheep Ireland said that the scheme is targeted at hill sheep farmers so that they will be encouraged to begin recording the parentage.

Wall explained that there are many benefits of recording parentage that are not always apparent to farmers from day one.

Benefits include:
  • Establishing bloodlines
  • Increased utilisation of performance indicators
  • Establishing local flock books
  • Increased information at selling/buying of stock

Leading the way

Farmers in the west of Ireland, around the Mayo-Connemara area, are the leading group in the country for keeping hill sheep parentage records, he said.

Wall said these farmers in the west have been recording parentage for the past four-to-five years, and he is hopeful that the advances made by this group will serve as an example for other hill sheep farmers to follow.

Difficulties faced

However, he admits that there have been practical difficulties in getting farmers to buy into the idea of parentage recording as it is a long term project.

Breeders find it difficult to commit to a four or five year plan but at least three generations are needed to see benefit

This means they are less inclined to take it on, but he believes that providing software and advice at little cost is a good way to entice farmers to start recording.

Critical time of year

Many farmers around the country will be in the middle of mating season currently and Wall said that this is the time to record critical information.

Wall encouraged farmers to keep records of rams and ewes now and contact Sheep Ireland before lambing.

Wall expanded on this by saying that birthing and performance records are of limited use without mating records.

Overall plan

While acknowledging that a national flock-book for hill sheep is still a very long way off, Wall is keen to point out that parentage recording is the first step towards it.

Once the parentage is recorded, he said, performance indicators and bloodlines can be accurately analysed, which will lead to the formation of local flock books over time.