There have been some follow-on questions from last week’s sheep feature on the new genotyped ram action for hill sheep flocks in the Sheep Improvement Scheme (SIS).

A recurring question relates to understanding the different aspects of the new catalogue developed by Sheep Ireland, which is linked to their database.

Figure 1 (right) details what the catalogue will look like. This is an example of an animal with optimum levels of information available, including dam, grand sire and grand dam information.

DNA verification

This information is a big benefit to have, but will not be available for all rams. It provides the potential for rams to be parentage DNA-verified, where their background breeding can be genetically verified.

Figure 1. The new Sheep Ireland hill sheep catalogue displays valuable genetic information.

There will be lots of rams on offer in the coming weeks where dam and grandsire/dam information will not be available, and instead, rams will be listed as DNA sire-verified. This means that the sire of the ram in question has been genomically verified.

This is the minimum requirement for the SIS, along with rams needing to be Type 1, 2 or 3 for scrapie status, and such rams will possess the verification in the top right corner.

EuroStar information

Some catalogues available at hill sheep sales, including the Donegal Pedigree Sheep Breeders, will possess €uroStar information.

The level of information extends well beyond the sire or parentage verification with animals possessing predicted breeding values. This opens up these rams to be purchased and to fulfil the lowland genotyped ram requirement.

This is ultimately where hill sheep breeding programmes should be aiming to get to, but in the medium term, identifying parentage data is still a significant step forward.

Over the next few weeks until mid-October, there will be hill sheep sales taking place, which will offer SIS-eligible rams. Table 1 lists all the dates that are coming up, with details about each sale: