Sheep Ireland to roll out across breed indices in 2018

Sheep Ireland, the sheep equivalent of the ICBF, will roll out across breed indices in 2018, the organisations Eamon Wall has said.

These indices will allow farmers to compare both the terminal and maternal traits of rams both within a breed (as the index currently functions) and across breeds.

Speaking at a recent Gain Feeds information evening, the Sheep Ireland Programme Lead said the organisation has gathered enough data to compare the different breeds based on the Eurostar indices.

“Unlike the cattle indexes, where they have an across breed index, the sheep indexes are only within breed at the minute and that is a consequence of starting from a lower base then the cattle.”

Along with the introduction of an across breed comparison, Wall also said that a health trait element will be included in the Eurostar evaluations from 2018 onwards.

“Sheep Ireland is trying to provide farmers with a little bit of extra information that can help them make better decisions when they are purchasing rams,” he said.

Since its establishment in 2008, the organisation has developed maternal and terminal Eurostar ratings and last year the organisation performance recorded 10,000 rams.

The Eurostar ranking system provides a ram with a star rating from one to five and as it currently stands it only provides information on a within breed basis.

“A five star ram represents a ram within that bloodline that is in the top 20% of that bloodline, similarly a one star ram is one the bottom 20% of that bloodline.

“All the data or the performance records that we would have gathered on a breed, we rank the animal within that breed,” he said.