The countdown is on for this year’s Sheep Breeders Round Table

There are just seven-weeks to go until the 2021 Sheep Breeders Round Table (SBRT), online event takes place this year between Monday 15 and Friday 19 November. The event is free of charge and links for registration can be found on the AHDB website:

SBRT is an industry initiative, with collaboration from joint levy-boards; AHDB Beef & Lamb, AgriSearch, Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and the National Sheep Association (NSA). It is open to anyone with an interest in sheep production and attracts a varied audience of farmers, breeders, researchers and industry representatives.

The programme will run over a week, opening with a lunchtime session on Monday 15 November followed by four evening sessions, each hosted by a different levy board. The NSA will conclude the event programme with a Friday lunchtime session.

A range of international speakers, breeders and commercial farmers will join each session to provide open, honest, first-hand experience from their involvement in the various projects.

Confirmed speakers include:  

  • Sharon McIntyre, Genetic Evaluation Manager for Beef and Lamb New Zealand working closely with SIL
  • Dr Nicola Lambe, Sheep Geneticist from SRUC will discuss how the CT scanning service benefits sheep breeding businesses
  • Dr John McEwan, a principal scientist at AgResearch in New Zealand specialising in sheep genomics
  • Professor Eric Morgan from Queen’s University summarising the first year of a European Innovation project looking at implementing TST (targeted selective treatments) of Anthelmintics on farms
  • Dr John Gilliland OBE, Devenish, discussing a European Innovation project to accelerate livestock’s pathway to net carbon zero
  • Margaux Goyenetche, Institut de l'Élevage, explaining how ‘The Digital Farm’ in France evaluates innovative technology for breeders and commercial sheep farmers.

Click HERE to view the full programme and register for the online events 

The committee intends to return to the traditional three-day face-to-face SBRT conference next year between Friday 18 and Sunday 20 November 2022. Please save the date in advance to avoid disappointment.

Programme of events:

Monday 15 November 12:00 – 13:30. Session hosted by AHDB.

Participate in a back-to-basics discussion on why estimated breeding values (EBVs) are relevant to every commercial sheep breeding business. Dewi Jones, Innovis, will shed light on how sheep end up with figures (EBVs) and how to interpret them. Dewi will be accompanied by two commercial sheep farmers, one with a terminal sire focus and one with a maternal breeding focus, both who use EBVs in their businesses. Together they will explain the benefits they see on-farm and give a really practical guide on how they incorporate recorded genetics into their flocks. This will be an interactive session with opportunity to put questions to the panel. Confused by EBVs? Don’t know where to start? Don’t know what they mean? Think they are only relevant for pedigree breeders? Then this is a session for you!

Monday 15 November 19:00 – 21:00. Session hosted by AHDB.  

Session 1: Multi-breed evaluation for maternal breeds Samuel Boon, AHDB, will be talking about recent research and the planned launch of a new, multi-breed evaluation for maternal breeds. The new model will include updated breeding values for parasite resistance and new breeding values for traits like lamb survival, longevity, mature weight and body condition score in an approach that seeks to optimise performance, as well as reducing the carbon footprint of the national flock. George Cullimore has a Signet Recorded Lleyn flock located near Bath. George will talk about the opportunities that exist to breed for parasite resistance and the opportunities this new analysis provides for his business.

Session 2: Enhancing maternal performance – New Zealand Sharon McIntyre, Genetic Evaluation Technical Manager for Beef and Lamb New Zealand, works closely with SIL (the sheep recording service in NZ) in the creation and delivery of new technical services. She will talk about the latest developments in enhancing maternal performance in NZ, including current thinking with regard to ewe mature size and longevity

Tuesday 16 November 19:00 – 21:00. Session hosted by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC).

Session 1: Hill Ram Scheme – Adding value to the hill flock The Hill Ram Scheme brings the latest technology to hill flocks in Wales with the aim of strengthening the Welsh sheep sector through long-term genetic improvement. This is achieved by utilising DNA parentage technology to understand their flock’s genetic performance – allowing farmers to improve their flocks and meet market requirements with little to no change to their extensive systems and also creating a critical mass of performance-recorded hill flocks within Wales’ stratified sheep system. Join Janet Roden, sheep geneticist, together with Irwel Jones a Hill Ram Scheme participant to discuss how performance recording can add value to the hill flock.

Session 2: Maternal trait development using genomic data John McEwan, is a principal scientist at AgResearch in New Zealand, specialising in sheep genomics. He will join us to discuss how the use of genomic data, through DNA analysis, can improve maternal traits in the Southern Hemisphere and how this can be applied to the UK sheep industry

Wednesday 17 November 19:00 – 21:00. Session hosted by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).

Session 1: Terminal sire breeding and the role of CT scanning Selecting terminal sire traits in breeding sheep is no easy task. Computed Tomography (CT) scanning is one tool to help inform decisions. Scanning using CT is a more accurate method for identifying characteristics which cannot be measured by ultrasound and allows, among other things, better identification of the best animals in a flock for breeding. Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) runs a CT scanning service for sheep, and Nicola Lambe from SRUC will be joined by two breeders, Scott Brown and Irene Fowlie, both utilising this service to discuss how it is beneficial to their operation.

Session 2: Marketing of sheep during Covid and beyond Covid-19 has forced us to adapt many elements of our day-to-day lives, and the 2020 tup sale season was one like no other, with many sales taking place online. QMS will be joined by two breeders, Neil McGowan and John Scott who have adapted to on-farm marketing of sheep.

Thursday 18 November 19:00 – 21:00. Session hosted by Agrisearch.


This session will cover four distinct areas:

  • RamCompare feed efficiency study - Naomi Rutherford will explain the results of the feed efficiency trials conducted at Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) Hillsborough as part of the RamCompare NI project.
  • Lessons from 15 years of on-farm maternal sheep breeding studies - Aurélie Aubry, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), will provide an overview of long-term breeding studies conducted on commercial sheep farms across Northern Ireland
  • Targeted Selective Treatment (TST) of anthelmintics – Prof. Eric Morgan from Queen’s University will be joined by John Martin, project sheep farmer, to explain the new European Innovation Partnership (EIP) project and provide a summary of the first year experience of implementing TST practices on farm and its impact.
  • Accelerating Ruminant Carbon Zero (ARCZero) – John Gilliland (Devenish, Group Lead) will be joined by Roger Bell, project sheep farmer, to discuss the initial findings of a European Innovation Partnership (EIP) project aimed at accelerating livestock’s pathway to net carbon zero involving a group of seven farmers across Northern Ireland.

Friday 19 November 12:00 – 13:30. Session hosted by National Sheep Association (NSA).

Session 1: A view from overseas Margaux Goyenetche, Institut de l'Élevage, France, will look at the role of innovative technology to progress genetics. She will explain how ‘The Digital Farm’ evaluates innovative technology for breeders and commercial sheep farmers.

Session 2: The UK agenda - Can genetics keep everyone happy? Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, will provide an overview on breeding for meat, wool and milk, environmental targets and societal expectations around a managed rural environment. his is followed by a facilitated discussion led by Dan Phipps, NSA Chairman, involving sheep breeders from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Summary of the week / closing comments from Charles Sercombe, SBRT Chairman