Maritime Central Ram Performance & Genetic Evaluation Program – Producer Survey

SPANS, in cooperation with the Maritime Beef Test Society, AgSights and provincial sheep associations, have teamed to offer a 2021 Central Ram Evaluation to be hosted in Nappan, Nova Scotia. This Central Ram Test is designed to provide Canadian purebred and commercial sheep producers with the necessary tools to evaluate the genetic potential of their performance-tested ram(s) as breeding stock, while offering important information used to evaluate their own flock’s genetic improvement program. The information generated in a Central Ram Evaluation can improve the marketability of rams and provide valuable information used as a selection tools to increase a sheep flocks productivity and profitability.

Performance and genetic traits to be evaluated during the 70-day spanning test period would include:

Feed Efficiency – Feed intake and feed efficiency can vary over 20% in a flock posing as a significant cost in sheep production systems. Daily feed intake will be recorded to measure how efficiently each ram converts feed to product (e.g. kg gain). Overtime a new feed efficiency EPD will also be developed that breeders and buyers can reference to identify genetically superior feed efficient rams. Improved feed efficiency across a flock can increase farm productivity and profitability (up to 33%) by improving lamb output while lower feed costs. Feed efficiency will be calculated using a method (Residual Feed Intake (RFI)) that assures that performance (daily weight gain and carcass merit) is not impacted, ensuring that breeders can select for rams that are both productive and efficient.

Average Daily Gain – Rams will be given an ad-libitum ration fed twice daily with individual ram feed intake and weights recorded daily over the 21-day acclimation and 70-day test period (91 days in total) using the GrowSafe feed intake system.
Fertility – Scrotal circumference is directly related to fertility and will be measured at the end of the test period to determine the actual and adjusted scrotal circumference.

Carcass Merit – Loin eye area, loin depth and rib fat are all highly heritable carcass traits (up to 50% heritability) and will be estimated by real-time ultrasound imaging of live rams. This technology is important for the genetic improvement of carcass merit and can be a useful tool for producers to identify breeding stock with superior carcass quality.

To assist in the next stages (pricing, dates, requirements, etc.) of this program we are asking sheep producers to please provide feedback by answering the questions listed here.

The 2021 Ram Intent Memo for the Maritime Central Ram Performance & Genetic Evaluation Program can be found within this SPANS webpage.