New RamCompare Project farm in Midlothian to help the UK sheep industry

The new Scotland-based RamCompare farm has been named by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) as the project seeks to drive faster rates of genetic improvement in the UK sheep industry.

By Kevin Quinn
Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 5:00 am
Owen Gray and Richard Callander at Saughland Farm.
Owen Gray and Richard Callander at Saughland Farm.

Saughland Farm near Pathhead will now participate in the programme, taking over from Bowhill Estate near Selkirk, which has supported the project since its launch in 2015.

Saughland has a flock of 1,500 ewes using Romney and Aberfield with everything recorded from birth and 400 ewe lambs. A new pedigree Suffolk flock is being developed with the aim to produce an easy lambing, vigorous flock without compromising carcase quality and growth using CT Scanning, Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) and rigorous selection.

Saughland’s livestock manager Owen Gray is looking forward to seeing what will be uncovered by the data-driven project and what insight into the EBVs of their flock. He said: “We have a strong interest in progressive farming techniques and using data and science to improve our stock’s performance and output. Almost all of our decisions are made from facts and figures, not guess work.

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“It is for these reasons this project really appeals to us. We would love a chance to improve our knowledge and understanding of performance recording and estimated breeding values while exploring the merits of different breeds and how the different ram qualities thrive in their system. In addition, it will help show the benefits of recording sheep systems to the wider agricultural communities.”

Bruce McConachie, QMS’s head of industry development, is excited about the next stage of the project: “Sheep farms have already benefited from the previous RamCompare project activities, but growing our network and utilising a different farm will allow the project to take on a new challenge and a greater understanding to the genetic improvement of Scotland’s sheep industry.”

As well as gaining access to one of the UK’s leading sheep projects, Saughland will receive a payment for the data provided, the provision of a select group of recorded rams for natural mating and funding to cover artificial insemination on some of the flock.