New Maternal Index introduced to improve Lleyn breeding productivity

A new Maternal Index and additional traits have been introduced to the Lleyn sheep breeding analysis to improve productivity and profit.

The changes implemented by Signet Breeding Services will offer significant improvements to the maternal traits of replacement females while continuing to gain in lamb growth and carcase traits.

The new index identifies high performing ‘all-rounders’ to boost traits in order to control the number of single and triplet births, ewe mature size, along with monitoring fatness to enhance productivity.

Ailish Ross, Signet Specialist Breeding Adviser, said: “These changes to the Lleyn breed’s genetic evaluation will enable breeders to select the most profitable maternal lines to continue improving their flock. Buyers at ram sales will also be able to choose animals that are more likely to produce offspring that will perform well in commercial systems, helping to push forward productivity and the success of the breed.”

In addition to the new index, research funded by AHDB and carried out by Scotland’s Rural College/EGENES has identified a number of new maternal traits, which have an overall impact on ewe productivity. The aim of including these within breeding programmes is to produce more profitable female replacements.

Estimated breeding values (EBVs) are now available for:

  • Ewe longevity (years)
  • Age at first lambing (years)
  • Lambing interval (days)
  • Lamb survival (number of lambs)

Driving greater on-farm uptake of genetic potential by increasing the use and understanding of EBVs forms part of AHDB Beef & Lamb’s 2017-2020 ‘Inspiring Success’ strategy, which sets out priorities for the organisation over the next three years.

More information on the new Maternal Index and definitions of the EBVs can be found online at

To download the press release, click here.