Ryan Young


Taking The Guess Work Out Of Selecting Replacements

Ryan Young farms 240 Belclare ewes in Lononderry on upland ground.  Belclare ewes are bred to Belclare rams for replacements, with the remainder bred with Suffolks to breed lambs for meat.  50 ewe lambs are bred to Charolais rams each year.  Operating a closed flock with replacements retained on farm, he uses Select Sheepware to assist him in selecting the best genetic potential of his ewe lambs.

“We tag lambs at birth and are linked to their mothers using our Agrident APR600.  This lets us identify and record any ewes that needed any extra assistance, or any other reason that we would not breed from them.  The reader is used throughout the grazing season to record the weights of the lambs, feet issues or any other management notes.

From the comfort sitting at the computer, the Select Sheepware program makes easy work in selecting the sheep that we want to breed replacements from.  We firstly produced a list of the best performing ewes who had two or more lambs, based on the 56 day and 90 day weight of their lambs.  The daughters of these ewes are identified to create a pool of potential replacements.  We can then be as ruthless as we want to select the best of these to breed with. Daily live weight gain, age, litter size is some of the near endless attributes that can be used for selections.  We would want at least 75 potential lambs on the computer, to then select 50 to keep.  An alert is then set on the program to mark these ewe lambs as suitable for replacement and uploaded to the handheld.

The ewe lambs are then run through a shedding gate and the potential replacements are shed off as the handheld vibrates and beeps when one is identified. This batch of potential lambs can now be filtered down using the usual method of what is pleasing to the eye.

So with no scraps of paper or note book, we produce a batch of replacements based on actual figures.  This will be a batch of ewe lambs that come from mothers that lambed at the start of the lambing season, had more than one lamb, not prolapsed, no issues with feet and meet our target DLWG.  By using this approach, we are achieving a year on year increase on the kg of lamb sold per ewe.

Like most things, the more effort and information you put into the Select Sheepware program, the more you will get out of it.”