Sheep Flock Improvement Program
Table of Contents
- Reports Available
Day Lamb Report
- Using the 50 Day Lamb Reports
- 100 Day Lamb Report
the 100 Day Lamb Reports
- Other Reports Available
from the Program
- Data Submission
The Sheep Flock Improvement
Program (SFIP) is a home test genetic improvement program designed to assist Ontario
purebred and commercial sheep producers in the evaluation of potential breeding
stock and to provide a measure of the comparative productivity of ewes in the
The SFIP program provides information that producers can use to improve
the genetic merit of their flock and monitor performance, and maintains a large
database of the performance records of tested sheep breeds in the province.
performance of an animal that you see and measure is a result of both the genetics
of the animal and the animals' environment. For example, animals with exactly
the same genetics will perform differently if they are fed differently and animals
that are fed exactly the same will perform differently due to genetics.
program evaluates the differences between animals that are caused by genetics.
Therefore, groups of animals must be treated or managed the same in the same environment
to attempt to evaluate the differences caused by genetics. This is called a contemporary
group or a management group. A management group consists of lambs that were born
within 30 days of each other, are located in the same place and have received
the same care and management. This ensures that most of the differences observed
between animals are due to genetics.
In order to participate in the program,
some basic information must be collected on the animals, i.e., sire, dam, foster
ewe and lamb identification, lamb birthdate, breed of sire and dam, sex of lamb,
born as and raised as. All animals must be individually identified by tag or tattoo.
The weight information is optional. Weights can be collected at birth, 50 days
(35-65 days) and 100 days (85-115 days). Lamb reports are issued after the 50
and 100 day weighings if weight information is sent in to the SFIP office.
weighing portion of the SFIP program is divided into a supervised and unsupervised
program. The program operates exactly the same except that in the case of the
supervised program an official weighperson supervises the weighing of the lambs
and in the case of the unsupervised program, producers weigh the lambs themselves.
In either case, the producer must have an accurate scale suitable for the weighing
of sheep. It is recommended that producers selling breeding stock be enrolled
on the supervised program. The supervised program provides increased credibility
particularly with people from other countries and when an animal has an exceptionally
enrol in the program, contact the Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency (OSMA) and the
number listed at the bottom of this page. There will now be a user fee for the
program. A fee of $169.50 must be included with your enrolment form to use the
If you have data for lambs born prior to 2009, they can be processed
without a fee.
There is a fee for supervised weighing which is paid to the
Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency district.
Following enrolment, producers
receive a package of information, including forms for the recording of data.
50 Day Lamb Report
are produced after the 50 day weighing and again after the 100 day weighing. These
reports summarize the information the producer provided on the lamb input forms.
The 50 day lamb report calculates adjusted 50 day weights and a ewe index. The
50 day weights are adjusted for age and sex of lamb, age of dam and type of birth
and rearing (single, twin, triplet, etc.). All actual weights of lambs are adjusted
to a standard age of 50 days and are also adjusted to the equivalent of a ram
lamb raised as a single from a mature ewe, four or five years of age. This adjustment
means that adjusted weights on all lambs in the management group can be compared
directly within the management group and within breed. The adjusted 50 day weight
is influenced by the milking ability of the dam and to a lesser degree by the
genetic gaining ability of the lamb itself.
The ewe index ranks each ewe
according to the total adjusted weights of her lambs within the management group
and within breed. The ewe index does not take into account any information on
the ewe's previous lambings. It is only relevant for the one lambing. Ewe indexes
are only reported for contemporary groups with a minimum of five ewes with lambs
who have 50 day weights.
Estimated Progeny Differences (EPDs) are also
provided on the report for the following traits: birthweight direct and maternal,
50 day weight direct and maternal, number born per lambing and number weaned per
lambing. An EPD is the genetic value that is expected to be passed on to an animal's
Also provided at the time of the 50 day lamb report is an inventory
of all the breeding animals in the group, their updated summary information and
their updated EPDs.
Using the 50 Day Lamb
The 50 day lamb report is primarily used for culling ewes, initial
selection of replacements and monitoring flock performance.
The best time for culling ewes is shortly after weaning. Ewes should first be
culled for physical soundess, i.e., udders, prolapses, etc. An average cull rate
is 10-20% of the flock. The average performance numbers and EPDs on the inventory
report can be used for culling ewes that have low production. By culling some
of the poor producing ewes there is room in the flock to keep genetically superior
replacements and increase the average performance of the flock over time. The
ewe index will assist with the identification of ewes that are not milking well
or have poor mothering ability. The inventory will provide information on average
lambing interval and average performance of the ewe per lambing and per year.
Replacements: Use the information available from the 50 day lamb report as a first
step in identifying potential replacement lambs. The reason for making some preliminary
selections is to ensure that prospective replacement lambs are retained if some
lambs are marketed prior to the 100 day weighing.
Monitoring Flock Management:
The 50 day lamb report can also be used to monitor flock management of the lambing
group. Basic data such as average group information for number born, number born
alive, % (percent) mummified, % stillborn, % death loss 0-10 days, % death loss
11-50 days, number weaned and average 50 day adjusted weight should be used to
evaluate changes in management techniques and ensure that the producer is maintaining,
and hopefully improving, the performance of the flock. If these numbers are not
what is expected, this is the time to try and evaluate what the problem(s) may
have been so they can be corrected for the next lambing.
Day Lamb Report
This report is exactly the same as the 50 day lamb report
with 100 day information added. 100 day adjusted weight, average daily gain (ADG),
100 day index and multi-trait index are provided. The 100 day adjusted weight
adjusts the actual 100 day weights for the same factors as the 50 day weighings,
and as if the lambs were 100 days of age. The adjusted 100 day weight is calculated
by adding the weight gain between 50 and 100 days and the adjusted 50 day weight.
The average daily gain is the gain from 50 to 100 days adjusted for sex.
Group Indexes: These indexes only include the 100 day index, multi-trait index
and the ewe index. These indexes are used to simply rank the animals in the group.
The 100 day index ranks the 100 day adjusted weights against the average 100 day
adjusted weight for the group. The multi-trait index combines 100 day adjusted
weight with a factor for number born and reared and compares this against the
average for the group. These indexes are strictly for the specific lambing compared
to the rest of the animals in the group. If there are less than eight lambs weighed
in the contemporary group at the 100 day weighing, there will not be a 100 day
or multi-index reported.
Estimated Progeny Differences (EPDs): The report
includes updated EPDs for all of the traits provided at 50 days plus an EPD for
100 day weight. The 100 day weights on an animal can affect the birthweight direct
and maternal EPDs as well as the 50 day weight direct and maternal EPDs. The gain
between the 50 and 100 day weighing is based primarily on the animal's own ability
to grow and can change how the direct and maternal components of birthweight and
50 day weight are divided. There is also a growth index. This index is based on
a combination of the lamb EPDs for growth characteristcs. The EPDs and EPD growth
index are much more reliable for selection than contemporary group indexes since
they are based on the performance information of all relatives as well as the
lamb's own performance.
Using the 100 Day Lamb Reports
100 day lamb report is used for final selection of replacement ewe lambs and the
selection of flock sires. The lamb report provides the information necessary to
easily identify the best gaining animals in the group and the best gaining lambs
from multiple births in the group by using the 100 day and multi-trait indexes.
To ensure that the best animals in the flock (rather than just the group) are
selected, it is necessary to use the EPDs.
The EPDs rank animals using all
of the available data for each trait from the animal itself and it's relatives.
This information can be used to monitor the average flock EPDs for each trait
so that when purchasing animals a flock improver is selected. Also, it can be
used to select animals based on specific traits, particularly maternal traits,
which are difficult to improve unless information on relatives and their groups
The growth index is an EPD index and is based on EPD values. It
can be used to select animals for all of the growth traits simultaneously. If
a producer is interested in improving growth rate, this index will be easier to
use than trying to consider EPDs for birthweight, 50 day weight and 100 day weight
separately. The growth index will not improve maternal traits. A maternal index
which combines the data for a number of maternal traits is under development.
try to select a group of animals, perhaps double the number needed, using the
performance information and EPDs on the animals and their parents. Then go to
the barn, sort off the group and select from that group based on physical soundness
and appearance. This helps to prevent the selection of a large, very good looking
single lamb from a mature ewe that only lambs occasionally.
Reports Available from the Program
Ewe and Ram Inventory Reports: This
report lists all of the breeding animals in the flock with their average performance
information listed on one line. Inventory reports are useful for identifying the
best ewes and sires in the flock as well as those ewes that should be culled due
to poor performance. It is also a good reference when choosing replacement animals
to check age at first lambing, lambing interval, etc. of dams. The inventory is
produced for a group with each 50 day report. An inventory can be requested at
any time during the year by contacting the SFIP office.
Report: This report summarizes the average performance of the flock for a year
by breed. The current year is broken down by age of ewe, as well as listing a
total average for the flock and the average of the previous year.
function of this report is to monitor flock performance. Particularly in larger
flocks, it is difficult to notice small changes in things like average lambing
interval, number of lambs weaned per ewe and percentage of stillborns. This report
compares the current year to the previous year so that these changes can be identified.
Performance Certificate: The animal performance certificate provides information
on the animal's pedigree and performance data. The pedigree lists parentage for
three generations. The performance data recorded on the animal as a lamb and the
current EPD values are also listed. This report can be used to monitor inbreeding.
It is recommended that there be at least four generations between two ancestors
that are the same animal to keep inbreeding to a low level. The animal performance
certificate is also useful to provide buyers with the basic information on an
Data can be submitted
on supplied forms by mail or fax or in electronic format on disk or email. EweByte
is an on-farm computer system used for sheep management. Data collected in EweByte
can be emailed or sent on disk to the SFIP system and the EPDs sent back. If the
producer is already enrolled on SFIP, the historical data can be sent via email
or disk for transfer to EweByte. If a producer is using another on-farm computer
system, SFIP may be able to download the data as well. Enquire with the SFIP office
prior to submitting data electronically.
the provincial level, the Ontario Record of Performance (ROP) Sheep Advisory Committee
is responsible for making recommendations regarding the direction and operation
of the SFIP test program. The Ontario Committee consists of five members who participate
in the program elected by the Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency (OSMA), three members
representing the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF) and one member
from the University of Guelph.