Texel rams have topped the rankings in the preliminary results from AHDB Beef and Lamb’s RamCompare trial, with the top five rams for carcass conformation EBVs all being Texels as well as the leading ram for carcass weight also being a Texel.
The initial results from RamCompare which were announced at the Sheep Breeders Round Table, Nottingham, on 18th November, show that Texel Ram HME1501742 bred in Matt Hobbs’ Elkstone flock led the way on carcass conformation from more than 70 rams in the trial.
Delivering a carcass conformation EBV of 2.64 with an accuracy of 93%, this ram lead the field ahead of another Texel, Roxborough Shot Gun Willie, bred by John Elliot and owned by the Prince family. This ram had a carcass conformation EBV of 2.56, while in third with an EBV of 2.32 was Stonedge Wallykazam from the Prince family. These two rams have accuracy values of 96% and 97%, respectively.
Following them in fourth was a ram from Alwyn Phillips Penygelli flock, PAP1501802, with this sire having a carcass conformation EBV of 2.18 and an accuracy of 91%. Then in fifth place was a ram bred in the Robert and Anne Payne’s Handbank flock, PRH1500573. He came out of the trial with a carcass conformation EBV of 2.11 at an accuracy of 95%.
Tellingly, the sixth placed ram, a Charollais had a carcass conformation score of 1.60, significantly behind the five Texels.
Meanwhile, it was the Handbank sire which topped the rankings for carcass weight EBVs, with a score of 2.00 at an accuracy of 87%. The next best ranked ram for this EBV had a score of 1.34, again significantly behind the Texel.
In addition four Texels appeared at the top of the list for carcass leanness EBVs, with Stainton Vantage, bred by Peter Woof and owned by Claybury Texels in pole position, followed by Stonedge Wallykazam in second, with Roxburgh Shot Gun Willie in third and Alwyn Phillips’ Penygelli ram in fourth.
And, wrapping things up for the Texels was the Handbank ram which scored top of all rams in the trial for eight week weights, demonstrating early life growth which is essential for efficient commercial lamb production.
Texel Sheep Society breed development committee chairman Peter Mitchell said these preliminary results from RamCompare demonstrated the excellent all round performance within the Texel breed and showed the commitment breeders had to breed development was being rewarded. “These results very much confirm what everyone associated with the Texel breed has always believed.
“The breed delivers what commercial producers, processors and retailers require. Fast growing lambs with exceptional carcass conformation and minimal waste.”
However, while welcoming the results Mr Mitchell said it was important to remember the purpose of RamCompare was to aid long overdue improvements in performance recording in the UK and increase the linkage between animals to improve accuracy of estimated breeding values in all breeds.
“It is hoped this will increase confidence in performance recording for both breeders and commercial customers. There will need to be improved communication of these facts going forward to ensure the results are not miscommunicated to commercial producers going forward.”
He added that the Society’s own ongoing £3m investment in research and development, including genomic trials looking at a number of hard to measure carcass and health traits would bring added information with which breeders could make breeding decisions in future.
“The new EBVs developed so far are welcome as they focus on commercially relevant traits. However, these are largely focussed on how producers are paid for prime lambs at the moment and don’t include any vision of a changing marketplace which may reward producers differently in the years to come.
“While we welcome the success of Texel rams in RamCompare, it is important to recognise that current carcass grading and payment methods may change in the near future and this will need to be reflected in future performance recording and breed development programmes across the industry,” explained Mr Mitchell.