Breed Improvement Scheme

The Shropshire Breed Improvement Scheme (SBIS)

In 2006, the SSBA introduced a programme of breed improvement to enhance the economically important traits of Shropshire sheep.

The three main targets for improvement are:
• The growth rate and carcass conformation of Shropshire lambs;
• The prolificacy and maternal ability of Shropshire ewes; and
• The performance of Shropshire rams as terminal sires to cross with commercial ewes.

Signet Performance Recording
The SBIS is based on the well-known Signet Performance Recording Scheme – a system used by many sheep and beef breeders in the UK to identify animals that are genetically superior for desirable traits.

Although a “stockman’s eye” is undoubtedly of great value when selecting breeding stock, genetic traits are not always reflected in the animals’ looks. The Signet Recording Scheme makes it possible to identify and select animals that have high genetic merit as well as good conformation.

Under the Signet system, Shropshire breeders measure and record the performance of their flocks. Farmers enrolled on the scheme collect data such as the weight of lambs at birth and at 8 weeks old; the number of lambs born and raised by each ewe, and the carcass conformation of lambs. Carcass traits are measured by ultrasonic scanning in the loin area of the live lamb. This evaluation is carried out by Signet technicians, who visit farms with portable scanners to obtain the ultrasonic readings.

All the performance information gathered by the breeders is sent to Signet, who use a specialized computer program to calculate the genetic potential of all lambs, ewes and rams in recorded flocks. This program is able to recognize genetic links between related animals, which improves the accuracy of the evaluations. It can also identify genetic linkage between relatives in different recorded flocks, allowing across-flock comparisons to be made.

SBIS Results
Since the start of the SBIS, thousands of lamb and ewe records have been collected and analyzed. Great progress has been made.

The chart below shows the improvements made in the average Maternal Index (which measures growth, carcass and maternal ability) and the Terminal Sire Index (growth and carcass traits) of recorded Shropshire sheep.

Each year the Signet publishes the following information about the SBIS flocks:
• The top five ram lambs bred by each recorded flock
• The top stock sires used by recorded flocks in the most recent breeding season
• The breed benchmark for the most recent breeding season
• An explanation of the traits evaluated (Estimated Breeding Values)

This can be downloaded here:


Current SBIS Members

Ms E Bowles and Mr M Bray (Hayne Oak Flock) Hayne Oak Farm, Butterleigh, Near Cullompton, Devon EX15 1PS
01884 32983, email: Flock letters LX

M J Comont and Son (Redlands Flock), South Coombe, Crediton, Devon EX17 5BP
01363 84343, email: Flock letters AET

Mr Paul Crocker (Ashley Flock), Ballakilley Cottage, Bride, , Ramsey, Isle of Man, IM7 4AT
01624 882247, email: Flock letters: YU

Mrs Gillian Dixon (South Yeo Flock), South Yeo Farm East, Northlew, Okehampton, Devon EX20 3PS
01837 810274, email: Flock letters TH

RD & CC Forsyth (Hodghurst Flock), Red House Farm, Longville, Much Wenlock, Shropshire TF13 6ED
01694 771224, email: Flock letters XN

Mr and Mrs P Geddes (Alderton Flock), Stable Views, Alderton, Near Montford Bridge, Shropshire SY4 1AW
01743 741689, email: Flock Letters LU

Mrs Jeanette Hares (Millenheath Flock), Millenheath Farm, Higher Heath, Whitchurch, Shropshire, SY13 2HX
01948 840233, email: Flock letters TW

Mr and Mrs Heath (Holloway Flock), Ingleside, Newcastle Road, Baldwins Gate, Newcastle Under Lyme, Staffordshire, ST5 5DA
01782 680557, email: Flock letters TR

Mr Roger Howell (Lukesland Flock), Lukesland Farm, Harford, Ivybridge, Devon, PL21 0JF
01752 894038, email: Flock letters VP

Mr Robert Kerby (Cefn-Carnau Flock), Upper Cefn-Carnau, Llangibby, Usk, Monmouthshire, NP15 1QQ.
01633 451033, email: Flock Letters ABB

C & J Morris (Apiary Flock), The Apiary, Stoney Stretton, Yockleton, Shrewsbury SY5 9PZ
01743 821685, morrisc& Flock letters XA

Paul Stead and Val Tew (Timberline Flock), Little Haven, Barford Road, South Newington, Banbury, Oxon OX15 4LN.
01295 721320, email: Flock letters VZ

Mr P and Miss D Tavernor (Shebdon Flock), Shebdon Cottage, Shebdon, Stafford ST20 0PT
01785 280339, email: Flock letters MR

Mr J Thompson (Sansaw Flock), The Estate Office, Sansaw Business Park, Hadnall, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY4 4AS
07980 305815, email: Flock Letters TA

Mr and Mrs A Webb (Ushers Flock) Usher Farm, Walcote Road, Gilmorton, Lutterworth, Leicestershire LE17 5PJ,
01455 554351, email: Flock Letters KX

For further information about the Shropshire Breed Improvement Scheme please contact Pippa Geddes, SBIS Coordinator, 01743 741689


Signet Breed Improvement Classes at Burwarton Show 2018

Classes for performance – recorded Shropshire rams and ram lambs take place annually at the Burwarton Show in August. In order to streamline the judging, the two performance classes now take place during the general showing classes for the Shropshire breed event. A direct to the website of the show with more details is