The AGM approved most of the recommendations of the Breed Development Working Group. These included a clearer breed standard, new registration regulations and new guidance on inbreeding and line-breeding.
The AGM considered the 3-column draft of the breed standard that was published with the last newsletter, and felt that this was perhaps a little complicated. A simpler and clearer version, in 2 columns, was passed round for discussion before being unanimously approved.
There is no change to the basics of the standard, although it now contains more information. It remains based on the French standard, with the exception of wattles (which remain acceptable in the UK) and a clearer statement of colours. The standard is now on the Breed page of the website or click here.
The next step will be to produce illustrated explanatory notes on the breed standard, so that we can all be clear on what it means. The notes are intended to assist breeders and buyers in selecting the best sheep, and may also be used by inspectors and judges. We also hope to hold workshops in 2020 to give practical examples of what the standard means. Watch out for more details in the New Year.
The draft registration regulations were discussed by the AGM. It was unanimously agreed that a new Annex to the Flock Book should be set up, to manage the registration of sheep that do not have satisfactory pedigree data. The registration of lambs, born to registered parents is unaffected by the change and the import of sheep properly registered with a European breed society will also continue to be allowed.
The AGM also approved the establishment of a voluntary ‘Ram Approval Scheme’, to indicate in the flock book those rams which have been inspected and found to meet the Breed Standard. Concern was expressed that the implementation of the new rules may prove difficult until, for example, sufficient inspectors have been trained. The AGM agreed that the committee should have some discretion over the implementation of the rules over the next 3 years, to ensure that no member is disadvantaged by their introduction. The committee will investigate the use of photographs for inspections and will report back on progress towards full implementation of the regulations, and their effectiveness, to the next AGM.
A proposal that ram lambs may not be registered until they are at least one year old was regarded as impractical, and was not approved by the AGM. Instead the Society will continue to discourage memebrs from breeding from young rams, until their conformation and potential can be assessed. Members also proposed that, whilst naming of sheep was not mandatory, the names of all sheep once entered into the flock book may not be changed and that the presence or absence of wattles should be recorded in the flock book at registration. Both proposals were unanimously agreed.
Finally, the AGM thanked member Sally Hoppins for producing draft guidance on In-Breeding and Line Breeding and unanimously agreed that the regulations should prohibit the registration of closely in-bred sheep (the product of a parent-child, or full sibling mating).
To read the Registration Regulations, click here.