English sheep farmers are being encouraged to take part in a major new initiative being launched by AHDB Beef & Lamb.
The Challenge Sheep project aims to get better lifetime performance from ewe replacements by understanding the impact of what happens to them as ewe lambs and shearlings. It will track 5,000 replacements from a range of sheep farms over seven years to understand how flock performance can be improved.
To help make the project a success, AHDB Beef & Lamb is looking to recruit sheep producers who represent a variety of systems and are keen to use the data they are collecting via EID to improve their decisions on ewe management. The selected farms will have access to cutting-edge information and ways of interrogating data so they can get the maximum benefit.
AHDB Beef & Lamb senior livestock scientist Liz Genever said: “Research and producer feedback shows that there are clear improvements to be made in the management of replacements entering the national flock, as up to 20 per cent are not retained after their first breeding season due to premature culling or death.
“Young sheep can also have a negative impact on overall flock performance due to poor lamb performance.
“Challenge Sheep aims to understand the impact ewe replacements can have on flock productivity and, ultimately, farm profitability. Using this knowledge, the project will develop best practice guidelines for managing ewe replacements. The research work will be linked to an extensive knowledge exchange programme to ensure results get taken up rapidly by the industry.”
Producers involved in the project will be required to collect a range of data via EID, such as weight, body condition score, lambing data and lamb performance. They will also be involved in a number of events during the lifetime of the project where the findings will be communicated to other producers and used to stimulate debate.
In return, Challenge Sheep participants will receive regular feedback and help with monitoring changes they make on farm.
For more information or to apply to take part in the project visit beeflamb.ahdb.org.uk/research/challengesheep.