October 16, 2012

Breed

 

Charollais Rams = Profitable Lambs 

The Charollais breed is a terminal sire breed so emphasis on selection should be placed on its excellent fleshing qualities and growth.  The purpose of the breed is to breed rams for crossing with commercial ewes to produce quality meat lambs for slaughter.  Easy lambing is an important trait associated with the breed; so skeletal structure to ensure this is essential.  The fineness of bone of the breed also contributes to the higher killing out % of their progeny.  Selection and assessment of the breed falls into two categories; structural correctness and breed characteristics.

The breed was first imported from France in 1976. The breed is centred around the town of Charolles in the Saone Loire region of France where it grazes alongside the famous Charolais Cattle. Since that time it has grown in popularity and is currently probably the 2nd most numerous terminal sire breed for the UK.

OUTSTANDING QUALITIES

Active and fertile rams – Charollais rams are renowned for being hard-working. They reach sexually maturity from 7 months of age and will work for most of the year. They certainly are keen and ready for work for early lambing flocks. Most Charollais rams will work for 6 or 7 seasons and many have been known to live for 10 years or more. Farms and research projects have found that Charollais rams sire more lambs than other terminal sires working at the same time.

Easy lambing – Charollais rams will without question give shepherds (and ewes) easier lambing. The skeletal structure of the breed; without heavy bone, broad shoulders or big heads makes lambing a joy. First time users of the breed cannot believe how easy birth is with the breed.

Robust vigorous lambs – Lambs are straight up on their feet, bleating and ready to suckle. The trouble-free birth ensures they are not stressed and the nature of the breed means they ‘get up and go’.

Fast growth – growth rates for Charollais cross lambs are excellent. Their length, wide loin and good hind quarter confirmation mean heavy, well-fleshed lambs. Single lambs can achieve weights of 40kg in just 8 weeks .

Prolificacy – The breed has very strong maternal traits. Mature ewes lambing in December will average 180%; this will rise to 210 – 220% in February.  Eight out of ten ewe lambs will take the ram from 7 months of age and will lamb at 130%+.  The ewes have an extended breeding season.

BREED IMPROVEMENT

The Charollais breed is managed by one of the most progressive thinking Societies in the UK . The objective of the Society is “to promote, develop and improve the breeding of Charollais Sheep in the UK ”.  To achieve this we undertake projects with a number of organisations to improve the quality of the Charollais breed and ultimately lamb meat for the consumer.

The Society, together with Charollais Sires (the breed’s performance recorded group) is involved in many trials :-

  • The use of Charollais rams on indexed Mule ewes
  • Comparison of high – v – low index rams
  • The development of computer tomography to improve the selection of rams
  • The improvement of selection indices for recorded Charollais rams
  • Investigation into quantitative trait loci in sheep
  • Resistance for scrapie
  • Use of Charollais rams on hill ewes to improve carcass quality

The Society organises a variety of events to promote the use of Charollais to commercial farmers. It also runs a programme of conferences, meeting and training days to help our breeders keep abridge of new developments in the prime lamb industry.

Growth Rates

  Average Birth Weight Av. Weight Gain
0 – 56 days
RAM LAMBS    
Single 5.0 kg 500 g / day
Twin 4.5 kg 420 g / day
EWE LAMBS    
Single 4.7 kg 395 g / day
Twin 4.0 kg 380 g / day
MULTIPLES 3.5 kg 330 g / day

Mature Bodyweight

  •  Rams 100 – 150 kg
  •  Ewes 80-100 kgs

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