August 21, 2019

Innovations in breeding and performance recording for efficient profitable sheep systems.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is offering sheep farmers the opportunity to travel to Great Britain to learn about innovative sheep breeding technologies, visit farms that are performance recording on a large scale and making informed breeding decisions based on performance data. The study tour will visit centres in Wales and the English borders.

This three day study tour will focus on how performance recording your sheep flock and genetic selection of both ewes and rams impacts the efficiency and profitability of sheep farm businesses.

This study tour is part of the Farm Innovation Visits Scheme which is being delivered by DAERA’s College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE). The tour will include visits to several progressive sheep farms that are implementing these innovative breeding strategies to their commercial advantage.

The areas of innovation studied will include:

  • how performance recording captures valuable information about flock output;
  • utilising performance data to make informed breeding and management decisions;
  • breeding from performance recorded ewes and rams with known genetics is vital to improving flock performance;
  • maximising performance at grass through genetic selection;
  • selective breeding is essential to ensure lambs produced are suitable for a specific market outlet.

The group will leave from Northern Ireland on Sunday evening 22nd September 2019 and return on Tuesday evening 24th September 2019. The tour will be led by CAFRE sheep technologist Dr. Eileen McCloskey and CAFRE beef and sheep adviser Gareth Beacom.

Applications are invited from one member or employee of the farm business with at least 150 breeding females (including ewe lambs), who is over 18 years old on the application closing date and not in full-time education. To increase the benefits arising from the study tour all applicants must identify a group of farmers to share their findings with upon their return. Sixteen places are available and these will be allocated on a competitive basis.

The Farm Innovation Visit Scheme, which is part of the NI Rural Development Programme and part funded by the EU, will cover the costs associated with setting up the visit, accommodation, travel outside of Northern Ireland, and meals when in Great Britain. Participants will be expected to meet any additional costs, including farm relief and travel insurance.

Sheep farmers who are interested in participating in this study tour can find out more details and complete an online application at:

Applications open on Thursday 22nd August 2019 and close at 4.00pm on Thursday 5th September 2019.

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