Charollais rams with high muscle depth EBVs in demand at the Premier Sale 2016
Sale report from the Charollais Premier Sale at Worcester on 1st and 2nd July.
With over two thirds of the sheep sold coming from performance recorded flocks, Charollais ram buyers had a wide choice of genetics available – with high index sheep from a number of bloodlines on display – but it was high Muscle Depth EBV breeding lines that were most clearly in demand.
Rams in the Top 10% and 25% of the breed for Muscle Depth EBV typical had clearance rates 20% and 25% higher than those from unrecorded flocks – and achieved a premium of £500/ram over those with EBVs closer to breed average.
Amongst the leading prices were bids of 4,800gns and 3,200gns for high index Fourice genetics for sheep bred by the Marwood family, 3,700gns for a lamb from Emyr Hughes and calls of 3,200gns and 2,600gns (twice) for lambs bred in the Arbryn flock belonging to Arwyn Thomas.
The Signet recorded class was the largest of the day – with all entries being in the Top 25% of the breed. Class winner came from Robert Gregory’s Edstaston flock – selling for 3,000gns.
Image: Lot 74 Edstaston Rockin Robin owned by R S & J A Gregory for 3000gns
Picture Tim Scrivener. Supplied by the Charollais Sheep Society
Summary of ram lamb prices – Ranked on muscle depth EBV
|Total||Sold||Not Sold||Clearance||Average price (gns)|
2015 – Recording – past, present and future by Sam Boon, EBLEX Breeding Specialist
In 1990 the Charollais breed became the first breed in the UK to participate in an across flock evaluation. This was a pivotal moment, because for the first time the genetic merit of sheep reared in different flocks could be accurately compared.
The 25 years that followed have had many highs (and a few lows) as we have learned how to use the latest scientific advances to monitor and enhance the performance of recorded Charollais sheep; selecting animals whose genetic merit excels for those commercially important carcase traits.
The Charollais has been the first to benefit from technology like ultrasound scanning and CT scanning. The breed has taken part in pioneering genomic approaches to the identification of major muscling genes and over time the analysis has adapted to reflect the changing breeding requirements of pedigree and commercial producers.
Taking into account the inclusion of a “genetic groups model” to provide previously unrecorded animals with a fair starting point within the analysis – the Charollais evaluation has
changed several times over 25 years. In 2015 the Charollais index will change once more to take into account the improvements achieved in lamb growth rate and muscling.
A new breeding index for Charollais sheep
Signet has recently produced a new index that retains the existing ATAN penalty placed on the leanest breeding lines and simultaneously reduces the emphasis applied to controlling the Fat Weight EBV. These changes will lead to the production of well-muscled, fast growing – but slightly fatter Charollais sheep.
These changes are best demonstrated in the chart above, which shows the relative change arising in each trait.
This chart shows the new index is very much a win-win for Charollais breeders. The biggest change observed is the proportional increase in the amount of fat within the carcase and across the loin, but overall muscling is not affected and even faster progress can be now achieved in lamb growth traits. These changes are expected to further increase the commercial value of Charollais sires.
Recorded rams are in demand
A survey undertaken in England at the start of the year indicated that over 95% of recording breeders had noted an increase in interest in performance recording over the last 10 years. More recent surveys completed by Abacus-Bio showed similar high levels of support for the work of Signet and Signet recorded flocks – but the true picture of the value people put in performance records is provided at sale time.
In 2014, Top 10% recorded ram lambs accounted for 25% of the sheep sold at the Worcester Premier Sale. They achieved a clearance rate 18% higher than non-recorded sheep and a £118/head premium. Buyers want to invest in rams with records of performance.
What does the future hold?
The future is all about making the best decisions using the best possible information available. Due to the dedication of Charollais breeders and the forward thinking approach taken by the Charollais Society, this is an area in which the Charollais breed has always found itself well placed.
In the short term, the Abacus-Bio review indicates that breeders now regard the Muscle Depth EBV as the most important trait when making breeding decisions. It will be no surprise to see breeders putting even more emphasis on this trait in the future; to accompany the genetic gains already achieved in growth rate.
New CT traits such as intra-muscular fat and spine length have been routinely collected for several seasons amongst flocks sending lambs to the CT scanner and the availability of new EBVs for these traits is clearly an aspiration for the future.
Breeders may also start considering whether the mature size of the breed should be controlled more closely. This can only be done through measurement – and hence breeders are encouraged to submit shearling ewe weights prior to tupping so that this trait can be monitored.
Across Breed Analysis
However, the biggest changes on the horizon are less related to the genetic change possible within the Charollais breed – and more closely aligned to the way in which data will be analysed in the future. EBLEX are investing in research to look at analysing multiple terminal sires within the same BLUP analysis. This exciting approach should provide yet another incentive to encourage commercial producers to engage in the purchase of recorded genetics and it could be as revolutionary as those first across flock evaluations delivered twenty five years ago.