The Breed Development Working Group has been looking at ways to improve the quality of our sheep. It quickly became clear that we need to focus on our rams: A ewe may have a handful of lambs in her productive life; the average ram may sire dozens.
It follows that rams have the biggest impact on the quality of our flock. We’ll be putting to the AGM a number of proposals to help members breed from the best possible rams, including delaying registration until the quality of the animal can be judged, and a voluntary ram inspection scheme.
The Society has always encouraged members to Birth Notify all ram lambs and then register those that will be kept intact. The existing registration rules allow a previously birth-notified ram to be registered at any time in its first 3 years, without any late penalty. This allows breeders to gauge the development of the ram and select only the best animals for breeding. The proposal to be put to the AGM will further encourage the selection of rams by suggesting that ram lambs may not be registered until they are at least one year old. Only birth notifications would be permitted in the first year.
And to help members identify the best rams, the Society is proposing a voluntary Ram Approval Scheme. Under this, Society judges will inspect any ram that is at least a year old. Those that are judged to be good examples of the breed standard will be issued with new pedigree certificates describing them as ‘Approved Rams’ and they will be indicated as such in the Flock Book. Their offspring will also have an annotation in the flock book.
Many other breed societies operate similar schemes – in some it is mandatory – but the Society’s intention is not to impose restrictions on members, but rather offer an additional means of confirming the quality of rams, and hence improving the overall quality of the flock. What do you think? We welcome members views ahead of the AGM. Please comment below or, if you prefer, email email@example.com