Welsh hill sheep breeding


Beef & Lamb
Project code:
01 January 2019 - 31 December 2023
AHDB sector cost:
Total project value:
Project leader:
AHDB, SAC Commercial Ltd, Innovis

About this project

The Problem

HCC is undertaking a project to evaluate the ability to generate long term genetic improvements in the Welsh ewe flock through engagement with hill ram producers and utilising new DNA-based technologies to enable performance recording to take place in extensive hill environments. The work aims to create a critical mass of recorded hill rams / breeding ewes, promote the benefits of performance recorded stock and extend the demand for (and access to) recorded stock.

Aims & Objectives

  • DNA sampling - Managing the tissue sampling of flocks and submission of samples for DNA parentage analysis and maintaining full records in relation to this
  • Service Provider A will also manage the return of the DNA parentage analysis and pass the analysis on to HCC’s appointed provider of genetic evaluations, and to the breeders. The services required are;
    • Maintaining dialogue with the HCC project team and the service provider to ensure efficient and timely delivery of accurate estimated breeding values to the breeders
    • Providing genetic analysis of the participating hill flocks for the duration of the project, to include Indices for each flock and EBV evaluations
    • Evaluating the Welsh Hill index to ensure it remains fit for purpose and accurately reflects flock breeding


  • Recruiting and establishing a representative core of hill flocks to become a hub for genomic information for the population as a whole
  • Management of participating flocks within their farming environment, for example identifying nucleus ewes and stock sires for tupping groups, performance recording of flock, DNA sampling, scanning and weighing lambs
  • Utilising DNA capabilities to facilitate genetic improvement within the different production system and environments – tissue sampling and analysis of stock to profile flock and assign parentage
  • Recording management and performance information about the flock, for example pregnancy scanning, management interventions at lambing, tissue samples and weights of lambs and KPI data
  • Marketing and sale of genetically improved breeding stock from the scheme

New Breeding Evaluations Increase the Value of Genetics in Hill Sheep Breeding Programmes: Press Release: HCC20076 dated 25 August 2020