A new terminal sire has been developed by lamb processor, 2 Sisters Red Meat, in collaboration with sheep breeding specialists Innovis.
The project is aimed at delivering a dedicated supply of lamb to match specific market requirements and give enhanced performance off grass.
A number of the performance recorded composite terminal sires– Focus Prime – have been bought by 2 Sisters Red Meat and will be ‘leased’ to its regular lamb supplies.
All progeny from the Focus Prime rams will be processed initially at the company’s Merthyr Tydfil plant and the results carefully monitored.
Peter Morris, from 2 Sisters Red Meat said the company was keen to develop further the potential to influence the distribution of yield through the carcase, and some of the influence over this would be genetic.
He explained by leasing the rams to farmers, there would not be a large initial capital outlay.
“The producers will be able to return the value of the tup to 2 Sisters over a period of three years through their lamb sales. And we hope this will help with cash flow.”
Dewi Jones, Innovis’ chief executive, explained Focus Prime was a combination of the best meat lines created by New Zealand breeding specialists, Focus Genetics.
“You might ask why use New Zealand genetics, as opposed to UK breeding? But Focus Genetics have been carrying out a large amount of R and D work on this using progeny testing. And we have effectively short-cut 10 years’ worth of work by bringing in this knowledge.
“The processor’s progeny test will further enhance the breeding programme by feeding back vital meat quality traits.”
The progeny test features 1,800 lambs from 35 sires. They ewes were individually mated while all lambs going through the abattoir at Merthy Tydfil are being assessed for full retail yield and value.
Fronwen Farm, Whitland, is one of the two progeny test farms involved in the initiative and manager, Ben Anthony, said: “From a farm level great to produce a product that the retailer wants. The first of our lambs were ready at nine weeks old and hitting 20kg carcase weight. We are intrigued to see which sires perform the best at both farm and processing level.”
Mr Morris explained the company would continue to pay on the grid system, but said the grid for the Innovis sired lambs while offering a higher price, would also include harsher penalties for out of spec lambs.
The company has so far taken 75 of the Focus Prime lambs to distribute to lamb producers, in what Mr Morris described as a ‘long-term’ venture. “We are going to be able to learn plenty about what the rams deliver”, he said.