Challenges of Moving to a
Performance Based Flock:
Experiences from the Field
Bill Shultz
FULL DISCLOSURE
• I am not a scientist versed in the theory of
quantitative genetics
• I am a breeder who focused for the ...
SIXTY
YEARS…
…CAN
MAKE
FOR
HARD TO
BREAK
HABITS
MY REASON FOR CHANGING
•Belief that purebred breeders should be the catalyst
for genetic change for the commercial sheep i...
MY THREE BIGGEST CHALLENGES
1. Disappointment in my results in the early
years
2. My better management didn’t make better
...
CHALLENGE #1: Disappointing Results
I thought I had a “LAKE WO-BE-GON” flock, where:
all my rams grew like weeds,
all my e...
THE COMPUTER DOESN’T CARE…
…that I had been breeding sheep for 50 years
…that I had exhibited champions from coast to coas...
THE NSIP COMPUTER…
…thinks that your sheep are average, until you
can prove differently with quality data
THREE REASONS FOR MY
DISSAPOINTMENT…
1. My sheep weren’t as good as I thought
2. I was not very patient
3. I did not have ...
My
BIG FAT LOSER
The sire of
champions
My
LUCKY WINNER
The sire of
performance
Plus
Genetic links
GENETIC LINKS
• The pedigree connection between sheep
• Genetic links connect your flock with other flocks
WAYS TO CREATE GENETIC LINKS
1. Buy a young Stud from an NSIP flock (most
common)
2. Share a Stud with an NSIP flock (most...
BUY, BEG, LEASE or STEAL
Whatever it takes, find a way to exchange
genetics with a participating NSIP flock
DON’T BE A BUTTHEAD, FIND A
FRIEND OR TWO
•Develop a relationship with a NSIP breeder or two
who share your vision and goa...
CHALLENGE #2:
Better Management Doesn’t
Lead to Better Numbers
The fallacy of what I learned in 4-H: Better
husbandry does...
YOU CAN’T MANAGE FOR HIGHER
EBVs
• In the show-ring philosophy, feeding and
management after a lamb is born is just as imp...
MY AH-HA MOMENT
•That all true BREEDING VALUES are set at
conception
•You can’t change them
HOWEVER, MANAGEMENT STILL
MATTERS
Better management can’t change BV’s however it can
improve the accuracy our EBVs ( our e...
WHY ARE ACCURACIES
IMPORTANT ?
•Higher accuracies help you make better selection
decisions
•Which ewes to keep as replacem...
KEYS TO MORE ACCURATE EBVs
•Develop strong contemporary group strategies
•A contemporary group is a set of lambs from
your...
THE CONTEMPORARY GROUP IS THE
BASIS OF ALL COMPARISONS
1)All other comparisons are made though genetic
links
2) No compari...
My three tips for stronger
contemporaries
• Shorten lambing periods
• Use at least two rams in each contemporary group
• U...
• Comparing your raw data to your neighbors
• Comparing this year’s data to last years data
DANGER!!!
DON’T INCREASE YOUR HAT SIZE
Resist the temptation to
quote raw data
CHALLENGE #3:
Thinking Function Not Form
1) It’s not a beauty contest
2) If it works keep it
My old traditional way of sheep selection
BIG, THICK, HEAVY BONED SHEEP = FAST GROWING, HEAVY
MUSCLED SHEEP
LET FUNCTION D...
My new standard
LAMBS THAT WEIGH MORE AND SCAN LARGER LOIN EYE
MUSCLE = FAST GROWING, HEAVY MUSCLED SHEEP
LET FUNCTION DES...
TRANSFORMING MY SELECTION
PROCESS
THE OLD
1) Identify my top lambs early and watch them grow
2) After EBVs are back adjust...
•Set acceptable standards for traits such as: breed
character, eyes, mouths, testicles, udders, feet and
legs
•They either...
CAN I SHOW AND BE ON NSIP?
YES, BUT…
Be realistic with your expectations
WE TRIED TO DO BOTH
(WE FAILED)
• We could not move fast enough with our EBVs for
performance traits
• We looked at what w...
SELECTION CRITERIA FOR SUFFOLKS
SHOW
•FRAME SIZE
•FEET AND LEG
CORRECTNESS
•PROFILE, STYLE,
BALANCE
•BREED TYPE
PERFORMANC...
• Marked improvement in the productivity of your
show flock
• Difficulty in keeping pace with strictly performance
oriente...
LAST ARROW IN MY QUIVER
With EBVs we have the opportunity to create a new
paradigm in how we view and select our sheep. If...
Genetic selection 1974
Champion Suffolk Ram Eastern Stud Ram Sale
Genetic selection 2014
High indexing Suffolk ram
Questions?
Bill Shultz
bunkerhillfarm@gmail.com
www.bunkerhill-farm.com
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Challenges to moving to a performance-based flock

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This is the fourth presentation from a six-part webinar series on the National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP). The presenter is Bill Shultz, an Ohio Suffolk breeder. The presentation was given on May 22, 2014.

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Challenges to moving to a performance-based flock

  1. 1. Challenges of Moving to a Performance Based Flock: Experiences from the Field Bill Shultz
  2. 2. FULL DISCLOSURE • I am not a scientist versed in the theory of quantitative genetics • I am a breeder who focused for the past 50 years on raising traditional purebred registered sheep • I faced many challenges changing to a performance based flock • Many of my thoughts may be anecdotal, but they are based on my experiences • I hope that they will be helpful
  3. 3. SIXTY YEARS… …CAN MAKE FOR HARD TO BREAK HABITS
  4. 4. MY REASON FOR CHANGING •Belief that purebred breeders should be the catalyst for genetic change for the commercial sheep industry •Loss of focus by our major breeds to address the needs of the commercial producer •The speed of genetic change though the use of EBVs as demonstrated by other species
  5. 5. MY THREE BIGGEST CHALLENGES 1. Disappointment in my results in the early years 2. My better management didn’t make better numbers! 3. It’s hard changing selection criteria!
  6. 6. CHALLENGE #1: Disappointing Results I thought I had a “LAKE WO-BE-GON” flock, where: all my rams grew like weeds, all my ewes milked like cows, and all my lambs were above average…
  7. 7. THE COMPUTER DOESN’T CARE… …that I had been breeding sheep for 50 years …that I had exhibited champions from coast to coast …that I paid high dollars for Champion rams …that I was recognized as a an elite breeder THE COMPUTER DOESN’T CARE !!!
  8. 8. THE NSIP COMPUTER… …thinks that your sheep are average, until you can prove differently with quality data
  9. 9. THREE REASONS FOR MY DISSAPOINTMENT… 1. My sheep weren’t as good as I thought 2. I was not very patient 3. I did not have any genetic links
  10. 10. My BIG FAT LOSER The sire of champions
  11. 11. My LUCKY WINNER The sire of performance Plus Genetic links
  12. 12. GENETIC LINKS • The pedigree connection between sheep • Genetic links connect your flock with other flocks
  13. 13. WAYS TO CREATE GENETIC LINKS 1. Buy a young Stud from an NSIP flock (most common) 2. Share a Stud with an NSIP flock (most preferred) • Use an older proven Stud • Purchase a Stud jointly • Use artificial insemination
  14. 14. BUY, BEG, LEASE or STEAL Whatever it takes, find a way to exchange genetics with a participating NSIP flock
  15. 15. DON’T BE A BUTTHEAD, FIND A FRIEND OR TWO •Develop a relationship with a NSIP breeder or two who share your vision and goals •Regularly share Rams (and Ideas)
  16. 16. CHALLENGE #2: Better Management Doesn’t Lead to Better Numbers The fallacy of what I learned in 4-H: Better husbandry does NOT make a better sheep.
  17. 17. YOU CAN’T MANAGE FOR HIGHER EBVs • In the show-ring philosophy, feeding and management after a lamb is born is just as important as genetics • In the NSIP philosophy, one of the goals is to reduce the impact of management and environmental factors when comparing animals
  18. 18. MY AH-HA MOMENT •That all true BREEDING VALUES are set at conception •You can’t change them
  19. 19. HOWEVER, MANAGEMENT STILL MATTERS Better management can’t change BV’s however it can improve the accuracy our EBVs ( our estimates of true breeding values)
  20. 20. WHY ARE ACCURACIES IMPORTANT ? •Higher accuracies help you make better selection decisions •Which ewes to keep as replacements •Which Rams to use as Sires • Higher accuracies mean the sheep you sell perform as advertised •Happy repeat customers
  21. 21. KEYS TO MORE ACCURATE EBVs •Develop strong contemporary group strategies •A contemporary group is a set of lambs from your farm that are all managed the same
  22. 22. THE CONTEMPORARY GROUP IS THE BASIS OF ALL COMPARISONS 1)All other comparisons are made though genetic links 2) No comparisons can be made between flocks or contemporary groups unless you have genetic links
  23. 23. My three tips for stronger contemporaries • Shorten lambing periods • Use at least two rams in each contemporary group • Use a proven ram in each group
  24. 24. • Comparing your raw data to your neighbors • Comparing this year’s data to last years data DANGER!!!
  25. 25. DON’T INCREASE YOUR HAT SIZE Resist the temptation to quote raw data
  26. 26. CHALLENGE #3: Thinking Function Not Form 1) It’s not a beauty contest 2) If it works keep it
  27. 27. My old traditional way of sheep selection BIG, THICK, HEAVY BONED SHEEP = FAST GROWING, HEAVY MUSCLED SHEEP LET FUNCTION DESCRIBE FORM
  28. 28. My new standard LAMBS THAT WEIGH MORE AND SCAN LARGER LOIN EYE MUSCLE = FAST GROWING, HEAVY MUSCLED SHEEP LET FUNCTION DESCRIBE FORM
  29. 29. TRANSFORMING MY SELECTION PROCESS THE OLD 1) Identify my top lambs early and watch them grow 2) After EBVs are back adjust who my top lambs are 3) Make final ranking of lambs THE NEW 1) Do nothing until EBVs are back 2) Select top performing lambs based on EBVs 3) Adjust ranking based on appearance 4) Make final ranking
  30. 30. •Set acceptable standards for traits such as: breed character, eyes, mouths, testicles, udders, feet and legs •They either meet the standard or are off to slaughter TRANSFORMING MY SELECTION PROCESS
  31. 31. CAN I SHOW AND BE ON NSIP? YES, BUT… Be realistic with your expectations
  32. 32. WE TRIED TO DO BOTH (WE FAILED) • We could not move fast enough with our EBVs for performance traits • We looked at what was happening in the beef industry with commercial bull producers
  33. 33. SELECTION CRITERIA FOR SUFFOLKS SHOW •FRAME SIZE •FEET AND LEG CORRECTNESS •PROFILE, STYLE, BALANCE •BREED TYPE PERFORMANCE •GROWTH •MUSCLE •FEET AND LEG CORRECTNESS
  34. 34. • Marked improvement in the productivity of your show flock • Difficulty in keeping pace with strictly performance oriented flocks WHAT TO EXPECT
  35. 35. LAST ARROW IN MY QUIVER With EBVs we have the opportunity to create a new paradigm in how we view and select our sheep. If we wish to meet the demands of our ever changing industry we must be willing to change. IT WILL DEMAND BREAKING MANY HABITS LONG PRACTICED
  36. 36. Genetic selection 1974 Champion Suffolk Ram Eastern Stud Ram Sale
  37. 37. Genetic selection 2014 High indexing Suffolk ram
  38. 38. Questions? Bill Shultz bunkerhillfarm@gmail.com www.bunkerhill-farm.com

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