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Relaunch for Premier Suffolk Breeders sire referencing scheme

Relaunch for Premier Suffolk Breeders sire referencing scheme: “suffolk sheep
Relaunch for Premier Suffolk Breeders sire referencing scheme
13/06/2008 10:00:00
suffolk sheep

The re-branding and relaunching of Premier Suffolk Breeders has been driven by commercial profitability.

Formally Suffolk Sire reference scheme chairman Peter Baber commented how members have always been focused on providing rams, which will produce more offspring and grow more quickly, giving more lean meat.

‘This group rivals progress made by any other group of sheep breeders. The re-launch is exciting and progressive and we will continue to achieve the fastest genetic improvement of our stock,’ he said.

by Sarah Trickett (About this Author)”

Suffolk trials show easier care potential

Suffolk trials show easier care potential
07/05/2008 14:00:00

Early results from a trial comparing the performance of the progeny of 10 Suffolk rams indicate significant potential for cutting costs by using easier care traits.

The work has also demonstrated that breeders do not need to turn to New Zealand to get hold of the genetics they need.

Three groups of lambs sired by New Zealand-bred tups imported as embryos, high index rams and traditional tups selected on eye were bred at Morfa Mawr, Ceredigion, out of 506 mixed-aged Mule ewes.

Technical help was provided by the breeding company Innovis to collect semen to artificially inseminate the ewes, which were heat-synchronised. The aim was to ensure all the different types of Mules in the flock were matched to the different sire groups.

Seventy-five per cent conceived and the ewes scanned at 1.93 lambs/ewe. In early February, 99% of 702 lambs were born alive.

Janet Roden, who supervised the work, told breeders who attended a flock inspection on the trial farm, owned by the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences, Aberystwyth, that ewes received identical post-insemination treatment.

Blind performance monitoring

In fact, eartag records were locked away so there was “truly blind” performance monitoring. Even she did not know which lambs had been sired by the different tups until shortly before the inspection was staged.

When the Abersystwyth University research associate presented lambing and pre-weaning results, she said the greatest variation was found within populations of lambs born to the different types of sire rather than between populations.

Only 2.3% of lambs were lost within the first 48 hours after parturition, with no differences in survival rate between lambs sired by the different sire groups.

The average birth weights were 6.1kg for singles and 5kg for twins. Lambs sired by the four New Zealand rams were marginally lighter at birth and presented fewer lambing problems.

Monitors recorded the level of help ewes needed, on a scale ranging from none to “call the vet”. Overall, only 6% of lambs required assistance to start suckling and most of these were triplets.

Individual and groups of sires

Lamb vigour was assessed and it was found that variation – judged by the ability to stand up and suckle – was greater between individual sires than between groups of sires.

At eight weeks, the heaviest lamb weighed 34kg, singles averaged 26kg and twins 21kg. Those out of UK high-index rams averaged 21.6kg, those sired by traditional Suffolks 20.7kg, while New Zealand-sired lambs averaged 20.0kg.

All the progeny were also assessed for dagginess on a scale of 1 to 4. While 15% of the New Zealand-sired lambs were dirtier than Dr Roden would like, they were slightly less daggy than the 25% in the two other sire groups, though one traditional tup was ranked second overall for cleanliness.

An attempt will be made, using faecal egg counting, to assess the link between dirtiness and variation in worm resistance between the 10 sires.

A full breakdown of variations in lambing ease, early vigour and weight gains will be published when Dr Roden has details of time to slaughter, carcass weights and lamb grades. The aim is to get lambs that classify 3L without using any creep feed.

“The initial results have revealed considerable variation in the easy care attributes of lambs sired by different rams that breeders can exploit,” said Dr Roden.

Immediate labour and cost reduction

Robyn Hulme, Suffolk Society commercial director, agreed and claimed commercial producers could gain immediate labour and cost reduction advantages by sourcing rams recorded for easy-care traits.

“An increasing number of Suffolk breeders are now concentrating on selection policies emphasising minimum labour input. Over 250 members are recording lambing ease and lamb vigour.”

The trial proved beyond doubt the importance and advantages of recording, which had been society policy for a number of years.

Prys Morgan, industry development manager at Hybu Cig Cymru, which sponsored the trial, claimed the results showed how breeders could use performance recorded stock to meet their individual farm requirements.

The final report, including detailed costings, would appear on the HCC website later in the year.

CAP: Lambs by high index UK Suffolk tups had the highest eight week weights, while those by New Zealand bred sires were less daggy, said Janet Roden.

by Robert Davies (About this Author)

Suffolk trials show easier care potential

Scrapie could pass via ewes’ milk

14/04/2008 13:30:00

Scrapie infected ewes may be able to pass the disease to their offspring via colostrum and milk, according to new research published last week by BioMed Central.

According to the results of the study, undertaken by researchers at the Vet Labs Agency, Weybridge, lambs can pick up cellular prion protein (PrP) – the pre-cursor to scrapie infection – from their scrapie affected mothers’ milk.

<!– document.write('’); //–> Eighteen lambs with the most susceptible scrapie genotype, VRQ/VRQ, were fed milk from 12 scrapie affected ewes of the same genotype and 15 VRQ/VRQ sheep reared on scrapie-free dams served as controls.

Three of the lambs fed milk from scrapie-affected ewes were culled due to disease at 43, 44 and 105 days old resectively and PrP was detected in the distal ileum (short gut) of two of the lambs.

Scrapie lamb

Meanwhile, a control lamb, housed in a separate pen and culled at 38 days old was also negative for PRP in a range of tissues.

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Subsequently recto-anal mucosa associated lymphoid tissue was collected from the remaining 15 live lambs at seven months old and all these were positive for PrP, while similar samples taken from lambs fed milk from scrapie-free dams were all free of PrP.

Early signs of lateral transmission were also detected in two of five control group lambs mixed with the trial lambs. However, no PrP was found in the control lambs kept entirely separate from the trial lambs, but housed in the same building.

However, it is not clear if any of the animals showing presence of PrP from milk transmission would go on to develop clinical disease.

by Jonathan Long (About this Author)

Scrapie could pass via ewes’ milk

Plan vaccinations to avoid bluetongue clash

Plan vaccinations to avoid bluetongue clash
21/03/2008 15:00:00

Sheep farmers should plan to undertake routine vaccinations as soon as possible to avoid clashing with bluetongue vaccination once it arrives, according to manufacturer Intervet.

The first doses of bluetongue vaccine are likely to be available from vets in the middle of May for farms in the protection zone, explains the company’s Rosemary Booth.

“Thereafter, further deliveries will be at varying times over the summer and many farmers may not know when they will be able to use the vaccine until the last minute.

“Because the bluetongue vaccine should not be used at the same time as any other vaccine, it makes sense to get any other vaccinations out of the way as early as possible.

“Vaccinating lambs against pasteurella and clostridial diseases requires two ddoses, the first at no less than three weeks old and the second 4-6 weeks later. The second dose is essential if lambs are to acquire the required level of immunity. Delaying vaccination could lead to potential conflicts if bluetongue vaccine arrives between the two dosing dates.”

Also, Ms Booth suggests providing lambs with maximum immunity to other diseases before they may be subjected to challenge by the bluetongue virus. “The better immunity a lamb has against a range of other bacteria, the better its chances are of surviving a bluetongue challenge.”

by Jonathan Long (About this Author)

Plan vaccinations to avoid bluetongue clash