North York Moors Swaledale Breeders Operational Group

The North York Moors Swaledale Breeders are a group of upland farmers who are looking to improve the carcase traits of their Swaledale sheep flocks.  The group have secured EIP AGRI funding through the: European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), administered by Defra, and with the support of AHDB Beef & Lamb, to set up what is known as an Operational Group.  For more information see the EIP AGRI website.

The aims of the project is as follows:

  • Develop new ways of data collection and new and novel data sets that can be used in genetic evaluations for hill sheep carcase traits through the use of EID, weighing/measuring, CT and ultrasound scanning technologies that suit hill farmers and hill farming systems.
  • Develop existing ultrasound scanning technologies designed to measure muscle depth across the loin to provide a measure of total muscle area.
  • Identify Swaledale sheep with better carcase traits (loin, hind leg and shoulder) and use them within a breeding programme to improve carcase quality and consistency.
  • Take lambs from the breeding programme and assess them through trialling finishing systems, including novel management practices, and through using alternative forages (roots, legumes, protein crops) and different diets