Breed Improvement Scheme

Stonegrove Archie, one of the top Shropshire rams for carcase and growth traits, was also Breed Champion at the SSBA’s National Show and Sale.

The Shropshire Breed Improvement Scheme (SBIS) 

 

A “stockman’s eye” is undoubtedly essential when selecting breeding stock, but genetic merit is not always reflected in the animals’ looks. Traits such as prolificacy, growth rate and the proportions of muscle and fat in the carcase cannot be seen but are very important.

The independent Signet Recording Scheme, run by AHDB, makes it possible to identify and select animals with good conformation that also have high genetic merit for a range of different traits.

 

 

 


In 2006, the SSBA introduced a programme of breed improvement, based on Signet Recording to enhance the economically important characteristics of Shropshires. 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.

The Signet Evaluation –

The Signet system uses a combined analysis of pedigree and performance data to generate a range of Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) and two Breeding Indices to help breeders identify genetically superior rams and ewes. 
The main traits measured are:

  • Litter Size
  • Maternal Ability
  • Eight week weight of lambs
  • Scan Weight (roughly equivalent to the weight at which lambs are ready for market)
  • Muscle Depth on the loin
  • Fat Depth on the loin
  • Mature size
AIM: Sheep to breed fast-growing, well-fleshed lambs – that finish quickly
AIM: Sheep to breed prolific, milky female replacements that are not overly large and produce fast growing well fleshed lambs – that finsh quickly.

Shropshire breeders enrolled with Signet 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 carcase 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 to obtain ultrasound readings using portable scanners.

Shropshire lambs being scanned on farm by a Signet technician

Here’s a video of scanning a ram lamb

CT Scanning – 

Breeders also have the opportunity to CT scan their best lambs to achieve a more accurate analysis of their animals’ carcass traits. These characteristics are referred to in the analysis as CT lean, CT fat and CT gigot muscularity.

The performance information gathered – by the breeder, by the ultrasound scanning and by CT if carried out – is analysed by Signet and used to calculate the genetic potential of all lambs, ewes and rams in recorded flocks. This program can 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 analysed. Great progress has been made. The chart below shows the improvements made in the average growth rate of lambs and the carcase traits (muscle and fat depth) of recorded Shropshire sheep.

Each year Signet publishes reports following the Shropshire evaluations, which can be viewed and downloaded through the following links:

 

You can find a list of current SBIS members here, or see the list below.

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: liz.bowles@mail.com. Flock letters LX

Cleaboy Farms Company, Mount St John Estate, Felixkirk, Thirsk, North Yorks YO7 1DT
07852 978511, mountstjohn@hotmail.co.uk. Flock letters AGE

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

Mr and Mrs S Dewey (Kingfisher Flock) Kingfisher Farm, Bartholmey Road, Audley, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire ST7 8HT.
07917 592111, email deweys5@aol.com. Flock letters YQ

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr P and Miss D Tavernor (Shebdon Flock), Shebdon Cottage, Shebdon, Stafford ST20 0PT
01785 280339, email: pntavernor@hotmail.co.uk. Flock letters MR

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

C&A Weaver and Son (Checkley Flock) 6 Blaizefield Close, Woore, Shropshire CW3 9SU
01630 647411, email checkleyzwartbles@outlook.com. Flock letters AEX

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

Signet Breed Improvement Classes at Burwarton Show

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 link to the website of the show with more details is www.burwartonshow.co.uk

Winners of the Performance Classes 2019: Ram Ushers Finley and Ram Lamb Alderton Magnus.

SBIS Contact –

For further information about the Shropshire Breed Improvement Scheme please contact Pippa Geddes, SBIS Coordinator, 01743 741689, psellwood@aol.com