Results from flocks in the Hill Ram Scheme show significant gains in weight for lambs sired by performance recorded rams.

The initial results come from the seven leader flocks in the Hybu Cig Cymru / Meat Promotion Wales scheme during the 2019 lambing season, and showed that lambs sired by performance recorded rams were on average 1.6kg heavier at eight weeks than their non-performance recorded equivalents.

Additionally, there were 13 per cent less lambs under 20kg at eight weeks when recorded sires were used, with 76 per cent of the performance recorded lambs being over 20kg at eight weeks. Furthermore, 22 per cent more lambs sired by recorded rams were over 30kg at weaning.

Compared with non-recorded sired lambs, the lambs sired by performance recorded rams were on average 2.4kg heavier. In monetary terms, this means lambs sired by performance recorded rams could be worth approximately £4 more each.

The leader flocks are a network of seven geographically diverse hill farmers who joined the Hill Ram Scheme in 2018 and act as exemplars to the other participating flocks who have joined the scheme at the later stage. The results above are based on over 2,500 lambs.

Gwawr Parry, HCC’s flock genetics executive who co-ordinates the scheme, commented: "These initial results are very exciting and show promise that the Hill Ram Scheme and the use of genetic performance recording will allow hill farmers to produce lambs for a wider range of markets by using genetics.

"The concept of the Hill Ram Scheme was created in order to help hill farmers become more resilient and sustainable in their businesses; allowing them to target various aspects of flock performance to produce lambs efficiently and within a wider range of market specifications.

"In a hill environment it is difficult to target growth and finishing in lambs. However, these results show that small genetic differences can have a big impact on margins without fundamentally changing farmers’ systems."

The Hill Ram Scheme is part of HCC’s five-year red meat development programme and is funded as part of the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

The Leader Flocks are now nearing completion of their second lambing season as part of the Hill Ram Scheme and a second wave of new participants are also in the final stages their first lambing season as part of the Scheme.

A second Expression of Interest window to join the Scheme ended in March this year, with a third and final wave of new flocks set to join the Scheme in Autumn 2020.