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To demonstrate the value of a selection index incorporating CT scans to improve carcass conformation in sheep - production of CT scans - LS3004

Whilst it is generally accepted that livestock farming is essential to the maintenance of rural communities in hill and upland areas it will in the future be necessary to reduce sheep numbers in LFAs, in order to sustain and enhance hill and upland environment. Improving the carcass quality and hence value, of hill sheep will make farming at lower stocking densities more economically viable, thereby helping to ensure the continuation of livestock farming in hill and upland areas, whilst helping to sustain and enhance rural environments. A long-term experiment which aims through genetic selection to improve the carcass quality (weight and conformation) of hill sheep is being done at ADAS Redesdale. Within this project good progress had been made in increasing carcass weights but progress towards improving carcass conformation was being hampered by inadequate live animal measures of carcass conformation. In a seperate but associated experiment the potential of X-ray Computer Tomography (CT) as a means of assessing conformation in live animals has been studied (finished March 2002). Good progress has been made CT scan protocols have been produced and refined, preliminary relationships between CT scans and carcass traits have been established, and CT scan appear to be of moderately high heritability. Based on this information an index incorporating CT scan data was used for the first time in 1999 to select replacement stock for the nucleus flock of Scottish Blackface ewes maintained at ADAS Redesdale. An analysis for the 2000 lamb crop provided the first indication that this approach would be successful in improving carcass conformation of hill sheep. However, data collected from one lamb crop only is insufficient to evaluate fully the potential of CT scanning as a means of selecting for conformation in live animals, and more importantly to demonstrates its potential to improve carcass conformation within a breed improvement programme. It is proposed that the CT project be extended by two years to allow the additional CT scan data necessary to validate the procedure to be collected and to allow sufficient time for genetic improvement in carcass conformation to be realised with the nucleus flock.
Project Documents
• Final Report : To demonstrate the value of a selection index incorporating CT scans to improve carcass conformation in sheep - production of CT scans   (433k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2002

To: 2004

Cost: £65,930
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Livestock Farming              
Rural Communities              
Sustainable Farming and Food              
Sustainable Production              
Fields of Study