Kimbolton Flock Supplies High Index Ram for CT Trial with SRUC

Researchers at Scotland’s Rural College have begun a trial to test the effectiveness of using a CT scanner for selecting rams which sire lambs with an increased yield of useable meat. They believe their non invasive technique is capable of delivering some £8.00 extra per lamb (based on an average national retail price of £13.3 per kilo). SRUC has provided a CT scanning service to pedigree sheep breeders for more than a dozen years, and for the past few years they have also done so using a mobile CT scanner. This has helped researchers develop methods for accurately measuring carcass or muscle weight and fat content of live animals using the images and data recorded by the CT and visualised on the screen. The new trial, with the cooperation of Texel sheep breeders, will test whether, by comparing muscle weight against live weight, they can create an index for selecting rams producing slaughter lambs which produce more meat with less waste. Dr Lutz Bunger, leader of the sheep genetics group at Scotland’s Rural College, said: “The trait we have chosen is based on live CT measurements, but in principal is very similar to the way pig producers are paid at slaughter on the lean meat yield percentage. Our method is also expected to reduce carcass waste in the processing plant. It will act like a simple selection index.” During 2013 the SRUC-BioSS CT unit scanned over 200 commercial Texel rams. SRUC geneticists then selected seven with high index scores(including the Kimbolton Ram)  and another seven with low scores.  In November each of the 14 rams were mated with 15 mule ewes. About 95% of the 210 mule ewes are now in lamb and the lambs will be followed through to birth and rearing. They will be CT scanned and 30 days later slaughtered in a plant with electronic traceability to allow feedback on each individual carcass. “It is important to remember that our ‘low’ rams are not low value rams,” says Lutz. “They had been selected for CT scanning by their owners who believe in their breeding potential. Our trial is looking for a particular trait involving many genes so there is no simple test. However the CT scan allows us to measure the results of all the genes involved and their interaction and identify rams with the best results. The trial will demonstrate the effectiveness of this method and will be another example of a fruitful collaboration between Texel breeders and SRUC.” Nicola Lambe, sheep geneticist at SRUC, is curious to find out how the lambs change in response to the selection of their sires. She said: “It is a one generation selection trial, but the selection trait we are studying has a moderate heritability (h2 = 0.38) so at least some of the benefits should be passed on. The offspring of the high sires are expected to have approximately 0.6 kg more meat when deboned.” Kirsty McLean and John Gordon from the SRUC scanning team are responsible for overseeing the care of the ewes and have been happy with the mating performance of the rams and the number of expected lambs. The results of the experiment should be available in autumn 2014. SRUC Rams

New Sale Provides a Unique Opportunity to Acquire Elite Genetics

Progressive Commercial and Pedigree sheep farmers alike are being encouraged to take advantage of the elite genetics that will be on offer at the Premier Sale of Performance Recorded Sheep, taking place at Worcester Market on Monday 9th September.

The event, which is believed to be the only dedicated sale of performance recorded sheep in England, has to date attracted over 120 entries from 9 flocks, including both Texel and Suffolk breeds. All the sheep entered have figures in the top 10 per cent of their breed and are Maedi Visna (MV) accredited.

The sale is being organised by Paul Phillips, of the Kimbolton flock, who has been performance recording his Texel sheep since 2008.

He said: “We have built up a loyal customer base for our recorded flock and have found that more and more people are now asking about figures when they are looking to purchase sheep”.

“With performance recording on the increase and there being no specific performance recorded sale in England, we felt there was definitely a gap in the market, and Worcester is an ideal venue at which to hold the event’’

“The sale offers commercial sheep producers the opportunity to introduce some top end, elite genetics into their flocks to increase the quality and quantity of lamb produced and we hope plenty of producers will take advantage of this.”

The Premier Sale of Performance Recorded Sheep will take place at Worcester Market on Monday 9th September at 5pm.

Kimbolton Flock Participates in Important Mastitus Research

The Kimbolton Flock is delighted to be one of the flocks that is participating in a milestone research project being conducted by the University of Warwick which is designed to further the understanding of intramammary infections (mastitis) in sheep.

This study is one of the first of its kind, particularly on meat sheep in Great Britain, the majority of previous studies have been based on dairy flocks in Europe. The results will show whether udder shape is heritable, and whether udder shape is linked to mastitis. In the long-term, it is hoped to use the information gained as an aid to decision making, leading to flocks with healthier udders and associated improvements on ewe and lamb performance.

The multi year project will see measurements and samples taken from the Kimbolton flock which will be subsequently analysed with the outcome of the study being published in late 2014.



Kimbolton Flock Wins 3rd Place in Flock Competition

The Kimbolton Flock is delighted to announce that it has won third place (medium sized flock) in the Shropshire & Borders Flock Competition.

This is the first flock competition that Paul has entered and speaking after the prizes were announced he said “As a new member of the Club it was my first opportunity to be judged, not just with one animal but all of them! As a relative new entrant into farming I am delighted to have been placed 3rd in such a strong field of established breeders”

Flock Competition 2012

Kimbolton Flock Placed at English National Sale Show

The Kimbolton Flock was delighted to have won second place in the pre-sale show with a Shearling Ram on its first visit to the English National Sale.

Kimbolton Statesman was sired by breed record holder  220,000gn Deveronvale Perfection out of a Barnage ewe by Callerton Orion who Paul bought at the same sale two years earlier.

Speaking after the sale Paul said “To be placed second at a National Sale out of such a large field of well known established breeders is an amazing feeling”

Pictured below is Statesman relaxing in his working clothes before his big day.

Kimbolton Statesman

Kimbolton Flock Participates in British Texel Genomic Project

A ram from the Kimbolton Flock has been selected to provide a tissue sample as a part of this milestone research project.

The project is a breed development geonomic DNA programme which is being carried out by the Texel Sheep Society in conjunction with SAC and Ovita New Zealand and will see 390 samples taken in the UK from high index Texel Rams.

The sample was provided from the stock ram Broncroft Osman and the outcome of the research will allow for a better understanding of the breeds DNA profile. This will offer future opportunities for the breed’s inclusion in the development of Terminal Sire Markers that may become available to UK breeders in the future. 

Pedigree Performance Recorded Texel Sheep