A project to develop best practice for managing replacement ewes as well as a better understanding of how management in a ewe's first productive year can affect lifetime performance.
Funded by AHDB Beef & Lamb, the Challenge Sheep project began in 2017 and involves 11 farms from across the country recording and sharing data to generate new knowledge and highlight existing information on managing ewe replacements.
What does Challenge Sheep monitor?
Covering both sheep bred as ewe lambs and as shearlings, the project is tracking 7,000 replacements from a range of English sheep farms.
Using electronic identification (EID), the farms monitor the following:
- body condition score (BCS)
- lambing data
- lamb performance
Producers taking part in Challenge Sheep submit their data to AHDB at key points throughout the year and also host events where findings are shared with other producers.
A nominal payment is made to Challenge Sheep producers for supplying quality data and they also receive regular feedback and help with monitoring changes to their businesses.
The sheep breeding cycle
The Challenge Sheep farmers are collecting data at five key time points during the sheep breeding cycle:
- 8-weeks post-lambing
This data is analysed and used to assist their management decisions on-farm.
Challenge Sheep farmer, Pete Webster, shares his advice around colostrum management.
Lambing in the North
Challenge Sheep farmer, James Drummond who farms in Northumberland, talks about his lambing system and how he collects his data.