Julie Bury (JUB)
Laine Daff (BLG)
Robin Johnson - Chairman (AP) - (flock visit info)
Stan Kilby (AST)
Janet Richardson - Secretary (JER)
Johnny Stables - (YY)

RamCompare Update for the Bleu Du Maine Sheep Society – December 2019

With 18,500 lambs recorded over four years, RamCompare is one of the UK’s largest and most high profile sheep research projects.

Established to find the most profitable terminal sires for UK lamb production, data is collected on nine partner farms – with a series of on-farm events explaining the role of genetics in ram selection delivered across the UK this summer.

Each year we receive over 200 ram nominations from which we select a team of 65-70 new sires. The project has now tested 276 rams from 11 breeds, Bleu de Maine joined the project in 2017 and to date three different sires have been used. Progeny are assessed throughout their life, with abattoir data used to generate estimated breeding values (EBVs) for carcase weight, conformation, fat class and most recently, days to slaughter.

Monthly updates
Signet’s Terminal Sire Evaluations are now completed on a monthly basis, with RamCompare data relating to lamb growth rate and ultrasound scanning feeding directly into the analysis; updating the EBVs of selected rams and their relatives.

Abattoir traits
EBVs for abattoir-derived traits are updated annually, with tables showing the leading breeding lines available at the start of the ram selling season. The latest results can be found at

Abattoir activity remains a vital part of our data collection and is improving our understanding of the relationship between measurements taken on the live animal (eight-week weight, scan weight, ultrasound muscle and fat depth) and those collected when lambs are slaughtered, the traits on which farmers are paid.

The RamCompare assessment of carcase traits has moved towards a weight-adjusted basis that more accurately reflect the yield of meat from an animal relative to its size. Each year,
12 lambs are selected from each progeny group to assess primal yield and tenderness. The EBVs generated from this data highlight our ability to change the yield of meat within the carcase and our ability to enhance tenderness. 

Highlights for the Bleu de Maine breed
Over the last two years around 160 Bleu de Maine sired lambs have been recorded from three sires:
Burford Hercules, bred by Julie Bury was nominated with a high index and with high accuracy, previously used as a reference sire for the breed he boasted top 1% figures for his Eight Week Weight, Scan Weight and Muscle Depth EBVs within the breed, he was used as an AI sire in 2017 within RamCompare

Rumwell Open World, bred by Janet Richardson had 8week weight, Scan weight and Muscle depth EBVs within the top 1% for the breed. He was the leading ram for Fat depth EBV producing the leanest lambs in 2018, fourth amongst leading rams for Scan weight EBV In 2018 and fifth highest Scan weight EBV over three years. He featured in the top rams in the new Days to Slaughter EBV launched in 2018.

These  animals have the genetic potential to achieve finished specification in a reduced number of days.

The Bleu du Maine lambs were bred out of Lleyn ewes and many of them feature in the recent AHDB/Signet publications. One lamb is on the front page of the Evaluation.

Whinholme Platinum, bred by Robin Johnson, nominated with excellent scan figures and an Index of 270, around the top 5% for his breed, he produced 75 lambs which have been assessed this season, results expected in April 

What have we learnt and what do we want to know?
The project has done a great job of enhancing our understanding of traits measured on farm and at the abattoir, highlighting which on-farm traits are good indicators of value to the commercial producer and which carcase attributes may be better assessed directly using CT scanning or abattoir data. 

The project clearly shows the variation seen in the value of sires. Extra value worth £3-£5/lamb – or £600-£800/sire is commonly seen on farms, with the overall RamCompare breeding index doing a great job in highlighting the highest value animals.

RamCompare extension for a further five years

We are hopeful levy funding will enable the project to continue for a further five years. This will widen the project to use abattoir data from a greater range of sources and develop our ability to highlight the most valuable rams, based on a combined understanding of their on-farm performance, CT measurements and commercial progeny performance. Please support us with your ram nominations for both natural service sires and artificial insemination sires in the New Year.

For more information please go to
Bridget Lloyd - On behalf of the RamCompare team

Commercial terminal sire crossbred lambs at Hutts Farm, August 2018

Burford Hercules, bred by Julie Bury

Rumwell Open World, bred by Janet Richardson

Winholme Platinum, bred by Robin Johnson