RamCompare - Identifying sires with high genetic potential to influence productivity

Wednesday, 13 May 2020


Fourth-year results of the RamCompare project reveal how sires with key breeding traits can drive productivity and optimal new sire purchases.


The project demonstrates how commercial producers can use specific estimated breeding values (EBVs) to identify rams with a high genetic potential and prove their worth when assessing financial impact.


RamCompare is a five-year project that takes nominated performance-recorded rams from various terminal sire breeds and uses them on nine commercial farms in the UK. In one of the largest trials of its kind, this joint-levy funded project has recorded the performance of 19,000 lambs sired by 211 rams through artificial insemination (AI) and natural mating, over four breeding seasons.


The latest update shows a great spread of rams among the most recent lists of trait leaders. Signet Breeding Manager, Sam Boon, urges breeders to focus on those traits that deliver the greatest profit to their system, and source recorded rams with the right EBVs to deliver them.


“Few rams can do it all; some will excel for carcase conformation, others for speed of finish, producers should evaluate their system and determine which sires have the potential to make the biggest financial impact.”


Among the leading sires for the 2019 lamb crop, a Meatlinc (HRF:09012) bred by George Fell tops the rankings for Scan Weight EBV (speed of growth) and comes second for Days to Slaughter EBV – where he is pipped to take the top spot by a Hampshire Down (27Z1700622) bred by C M Brant and Son.


In terms of overall Carcase Merit Index, the top sire is Grey Peel Lear Jet HMF05019, a Texel bred by Maurice Hardy-Bishop. Top ram for Carcase Conformation EBV is a Blue Texel (08441:24891), bred by Jan Rodenburg.


Within the project, carcases are dissected to assess primal yields at a fixed weight, a Southdown (883:170545) from Rob Beaumont and a SuffTex (UK 0 304652 06765) from Robyn and Nick Hulme, provided the greatest weight of meat in the middle (loin) and haunch sections respectively.


Once again, a Charollais ram topped the list for Shearforce EBV, a breeding value indicating meat tenderness. This year, the top sire was Crogham Lambert (11AB00035) bred by Crogham Charollais and provided to the project by the Ingram family.


With seven different breeds topping at least one of the RamCompare leader tables, the UK sheep industry shows extensive range and genetic variation and a wealth of opportunities.


Ultimately, decisions on commercial farms should reflect the profitability of each trait to the enterprise – and this varies with production system and end market. RamCompare clearly shows the benefit of EBV based ram selection to enhance those traits on which producers are paid.


The strength of this relationship is shown in the table below, which is based on the latest RamCompare results and now forms the cornerstone of our ram buying recommendations.




Estimated Breeding Values available for ram selection

Scan Weight EBV

Muscle Depth EBV

Fat Depth EBV

CT Lean Weight EBV

CT Fat Weight EBV

CT Gigot Muscularity EBV


attribute of interest

On-Farm Growth Rate


Carcase Weight




Carcase Conformation




Carcase Fat Class



Days to Slaughter


Scale: * = small impact, but important in certain breeds / **** = large impact

A series of case studies, available at www.ramcompare.com, not only show the impact of these decisions at farm level – but also the financial gain achieved through careful ram selection.


Buyers can access the RamCompare data online to see a ram’s genetic ranking for specific traits such as carcase attributes or growth rate. Signet recorded stock can be found at www.signetdata.com, which provides lists of sheep for sale, as well as “Flock Finder” which indicates performance recorded flocks located nearby.


For more information on the RamCompare project, including a downloadable copy of the latest results, please visit www.RamCompare.com