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High index Suffolks benifit commercial sheep farmers


The results of the latest trials by Quality Meat Scotland’s Scottish Sheep Strategy reinforce the message that commercial sheep farmers will improve returns by using tups with the genetic potential to sire more efficient off-spring.

Recent trial results, announced at Scotsheep today (Wednesday 6th June), reveal producers selecting High Index Suffolk tups are obtaining a welcome income boost of £2 – £3 per lamb.
Maimie Paterson, chairman of the Scottish Sheep Strategy, said the rationale for initiating a trial using Suffolk focus farms, was the breed’s ability to sire lambs which grow quickly and reach market specification at a young age.

“Over the previous four years we used four different breeds of tup on six farms operating different management and marketing strategies and proved conclusively that High Index tups consistently outperform tups selected in the traditional manner by £5 per ewe mated per annum.
“This figure was achieved by a combination of factors, each contributing to the overall margin. The lambs were slightly heavier and had slightly better conformation. They also reached target weight and cover at a younger age and had a better survival rate.
“We felt it was important to then run a trial to see whether or not the same benefits could be shown in this type of faster finishing system.”

Three farms agreed to come on board as Suffolk focus farms: Morrisons Farm at Dumfries House (Morrisons); Kings Arms Farm, Ballantrae (Messrs Dalrymple) and Wellheads at Huntly (the Gordon family).

The results of the first year show, that for the 584 lambs involved in the three-farm trial, the use of High Performance sires generated an increased return averaging £2.69/lamb compared with Farm Choice sires (where genetic merit is not known).
The benefit varied from £1.19/lamb on the Morrisons Farm to £3.13/lamb at Wellheads Farm and £3.91/lamb at Kings Arms. Read More …