Our objective is to breed rams to produce lambs that help producers increase their profitability, that fit processors specifications and meet consumers expectations.
We select for structurally sound, early maturing high performance animals using Sheep Genetics ASBVs. We have successfully managed improving growth rate while maintaining moderate birthweight asbvs. All our relevant performance information is collected before the animals are 7 months of age. This helps us to continue to meet our early maturity goal.
Selection for early maturity and muscling means that unlike many breeders we don’t aim to produce “great big rams”, but rams that produce lambs that grow to market weights exceptionally quickly, and that have enough fat cover to finish. We would much rather a ram that was 50 kg at 100 days than a ram that was 150 kg at 18 months. Great big rams are for egos not for efficient lamb production.
All our performance information is all measured based on pasture growth. The only time we use feeders is to finish cull lambs to take them out of the pasture rotation or in exceptionally tough seasons to present rams for sale.
We individually sample all ram lambs after a worm challenge post weaning to provide data to produce ASBVs for worm resistance.
DNA testing for eating quality and yield
Over the last 4 years we have invested in DNA testing for eating quality and yield, recognising that eating quality is paramount to consumer satisfaction. There is clear evidence that selection for high yielding, fast growing animals leads to a poorer eating quality outcome. DNA testing has allowed us to bend this curve and continue to improve performance while maintaining (and gradually improving) eating quality. As ram breeders and lamb producers we cannot ignore eating quality.
At Felix Rams we are committed to highly accurate data collection. We run large groups of rams under commercial conditions to enable their performance to be compared. We firmly believe active performance selection aided by the use of tools such as Sheep Genetics Lambplan across asbvs gives a level of genetic improvement far outweighing that possible from a “showring” selection method, or selection based on raw measurements. This doesn’t mean that we ignore structural soundness in any way.
Data collection is in our DNA!