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40 years of sheep breeding in the UK Geoff Pollott Senior Lecturer in Bioinformatics and Genetics.

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Presentation on theme: "40 years of sheep breeding in the UK Geoff Pollott Senior Lecturer in Bioinformatics and Genetics."— Presentation transcript:

1 40 years of sheep breeding in the UK Geoff Pollott Senior Lecturer in Bioinformatics and Genetics

2 Survey 2012 Headlines Decline in purebred ewe numbers continues Increase in ad hoc crossbred ewes The continuing rise of the Texel as a terminal sire and as part of a crossbred ewe at the expense of the Suffolk Further imports of new breeds to Britain and the decline of established British breeds Yet more new composites

3 Background  June and December Census data collected annually (well almost!!!).  No information on breeds or matings.  In 1970, the newly formed MLC set up study groups to determine technical direction of each species.  No comprehensive information was available on sheep breeds in Britain – initiated 1 st survey at tupping  Subsequent surveys carried out in 1987,1996, 2003 and 2012.

4 The last 40 years in context Total sheep numbers in Britain – June census 30 breeds 90 breeds 75 breeds 60 breeds

5 The rise of the crossbred Britain - Source: MLC/Defra/EBLEX Sheep Breed Surveys

6 Changing hill breed numbers Hill ewes as a proportion of all ewes declined from 57% in 1971 to 31% in 2012

7 Disappearing purebreds? Border Leicester Romney Marsh Devon Closewool Devon and Cornwall Longwool Whitefaced Dartmoor Greyfaced Dartmoor Hampshire Down Southdown74979 Clun Forest Dorset Horn Kerryhill Llanwenog Total1,

8 Overall breed changes in 40 years YearUKImported Newly imported Lost imported Compo sites New comp osites Lost compo sitesTotal 1971~5011~

9 The era of the imported breed? 30 breeds imported over 40 years - 5 not found in 2012 ~ 545,000 ewes of imported breeds found in 2012 ~ 20% of all non-hill ewes

10 The rise of the Texel ewe Texel not found in 1971 survey “In 1973, thirteen Lanarkshire sheep breeders joined forces with ABRO to import twenty-seven Texel females and thirteen rams from France.”

11 Terminal sire purebred ewe numbers

12 Terminal sire crossbred ewe numbers

13 Changes in regular crossbred ewe types (000) North Country Mule3113,2333,8091,9152,094 Welsh Mule Scots Mule Greyface Welsh Halfbred Scottish Halfbred Masham Suffolk x Mule/HB type Texel x Mule/HB type Suffolk x Hill Texel x Hill Total2,5296,2846,2914,8314,538

14 A move towards more efficient sheep?

15 Composites – many a dashed dream? 12 composites introduced in 40 years - 4 disappeared Meatlinc - the most enduring ~ 3,000 ewes Easycare - the up and coming ~ 20,000 ewes

16 Conclusions and discussion points Stratified crossbreeding structure still found Balance shifting towards crossbreds Many ‘irregular’ crossbreds New breeds and composites still appearing Breeds with real traits to offer find a place

17 Questions?

18 Demographic changes - flocks Source: BWMB

19 Demographic changes – breeding ewes Britain - Source: Defra December census

20 Demographic changes - Britain

21 Distribution of ewes and farms by breeding flock size 54% of ewes are on 13% of farms UK - Source: Defra June census 2012

22 Breeding ewe numbers by country Older ewes - Source: Defra December census

23 Scottish Hill ewes

24 English hill ewes

25 Welsh hill ewes


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