Sheep Ireland is achieving greater accuracy every year with its breed improvement programme - programme manager
The average accuracy of Sheep in this year's Belclare Premier sale is 43pc, which is a 28pc increase from the 2010 sale. Accuracy figures will continue to rise as we collect more data from both pedigree and commercial flocks and add more traits to the evaluation (i.e. Slaughter data).
Accuracy is a function of genetic gain (ie, making the next generation more profitable than the last one, on an annual basis); therefore, the higher the accuracy, the faster the rate of genetic gain. So even with accuracies of 40pc, significant genetic gain can be made, and is being made.
Using data collected by farmers is the basis of every sheep breed improvement programme around the world. It would not be practical or feasible for Sheep Ireland to independently collect each piece of information from each flock.
What we can do - and what we are doing - is checking the data before it enters the genetic evaluation to exclude any information that is outside the expected range for a particular trait.
As reflected on the 2019 LambPlus sign-up forms circulated to all pedigree ram breeders in November 2018, Sheep Ireland now insist on breeders granting permission to access their flocks at any point throughout the year.
Sheep Ireland data recording technicians will be visiting flocks with a view to helping breeders to improve their data recording in areas where weaknesses are identified.
The DQI does have a data quality element, as the name suggests. What the DQI really helps to facilitate is giving LambPlus breeders tailored feedback on the areas where they can most improve their data recording, and yes, part of it is the volume of data submitted. This is because the more records in the evaluation, the more accurate the evaluations will be for everybody.
There is regular independent validation of the €uroStar indices carried out by Teagasc. This validation consistently shows that the five-star animals outperform their one-star counterparts.