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STAP TASK 1 explained in detail

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€uro-Star evaluations at a glance Three main traits are recorded by Sheep Ireland • Production (Growth trait – improving growth rates & carcase quality) • Maternal (Mothering ability – improving ewe performance) • Lambing (Improving lambing ease and lamb survival at lambing time)

Sheep Ireland INTRODUCTION Sheep Ireland was formed in 2009 with the aim of developing a more profitable sheep industry through the use of better genetics. The Sheep Ireland €uro-Star ram ratings aim to identify the very best genetics to allow sheep farmers avail of the significant gains that can be made.

Main aims of Sheep Irelands national breed improvement programme 1. To help increase the profitability on Irish Sheep farms 2. To achieve the above aim by identifying the very best sheep genetics in Ireland 3. To make these top genetics available to commercial farmers through the €uroStar evaluations

Mission Statement To achieve the greatest possible improvement, from genetic and other factors, in the profitability of the national sheep flock for the benefit of PAGE 2 Irish farmers and the sheep industry

How to identify the top genetics – What do the €uro-Stars represent? Euro-Star Categories ★★★★★

5 Stars:

Top 20%


4 Stars:

Top 60 – 80%


3 Stars:

40 – 60%


2 Stars:

Bottom 20 – 40%

1 Star:

Bottom 20%

Accuracy % - A critical element of the €uro-Stars

The accuracy % attached to every €uro-Star evaluation is extremely important as it is a measure of the amount of information behind the evaluation. The more information supporting the evaluation for an individual animal the better – and this will be reflected in higher accuracies. High accuracy = high confidence in the figures!!! Below illustrates how farmers should currently evaluate the level of accuracy in the Sheep Ireland evaluations.

Production Index Lambing & Maternal Index

Accuracy Level

Ram Lambs

Older Rams





25% to 40%

30% to 55%








15% to 30%

15% to 35%




Why use the €uro-Star evaluations

What’s the difference?

Most farmers have had bad experiences when it comes to breeding rams. There can be huge variation in the performance and output of different rams, even rams that look identical in every way. The €uro-Star evaluations provide a very useful additional tool to sheep farmers when purchasing a breeding ram to help identify rams that will contribute in a positive way to profitability from their sheep enterprise.

How to use the €uro-Star evaluations

Which of these rams will be profitable?



The physical examination of a breeding ram is of critical importance. There are a number checks that should be carried out on a ram before making a purchase. These include:

Once the physical checks have been completed and a number of potential purchases have been identified, farmers should then use the €uro-Star indexes as a tool to identify their ideal choice/s.

• • • • •

Teeth – front teeth (incisors) & back teeth (molars) Brisket/chest – ensuring it is free from sores Feet & legs – lamness, joints, infections Penis & Prepuce – free from injury or infection Testicles & Scrotum – free from infection, good size, free of lumps or sores. The €uro-Star evaluations will never compensate for physical problems in a breeding ram, so ALWAYS carry out a thorough physical examination in advance of considering the €uro-Star evaluations.

The €uro-Star catalogue:

Below illustrates what farmers can expect to see at breed society ram sales this season.



Pedigree Sheep Flocks

LambPlus Pedigree Recording Flocks


€u uro €urostar Evaluation Ram Search R Lot 1 Lot 2

Livestock Mart

Catalogues Cata

Recorded Multi-bree

Inbreeding Checker

1 Pedigree Ram Breeders There are approximately 1000 Pedigree ram breeders that are members of official breed societies. According to the 2012 national sheep census there are 80,000 breeding rams in existence in Ireland.

farm annually which is then analysed to produce genetic evaluations, i.e. €uro-Stars 3 Central Progeny Test – CPT There are 4 individual flocks involved in the CPT with a combined number of ewes in excess of 2100. Each of these ewes are artificially inseminated (AI’d) each year with semen sourced from Pedigree rams around the country.

the year and this ‘commercial flock’ information feeds back into the €uro-Star genetic evaluations.

5 Carcase Data Sheep Ireland are currently working with abattoirs to design an infrastructure to allow lamb carcase data flow into the Sheep Ireland genetic 2 LambPlus Pedigree Performance recording evaluations. This movement of data has already flocks commenced with some of our CPT & MALP flocks There is currently just over 300 pedigree flocks of 4 Maternal Lamb Producers Group – MALP and we hope to implement the same with the different breeds participating in performance There are currently 15 Sheep Ireland MALP flocks. Pedigree flocks that are participating in the programme. This data is hugely important to any recording with Sheep Ireland. The number of These flocks use Pedigree rams sourced from genetic improvement programme. breeders involved is growing annually. Each performance recording breeders to mate with breeder is required to record important their ewes each year. Performance information on information on each individual lamb born on the the lambs they produce is collected throughout




y Factory a Data

7 Sheep Ireland €urostar Evaluations

ed Sales


6 Sheep Ireland €uro-Star evaluations The €uro-Stars first appeared in 2009. At that time there was only a small number of flocks participating in the breed improvement programme. Each year the programme has grown and in 2012, Sheep Ireland produced genetic evaluations for over 6,000 Pedigree rams. In 2013 it is predicted that over 10,000 €uro-Star rams will be available for purchase by Irish sheep farmers. 7 Sheep Ireland – End Product €uro-Star Evaluations – more info on these evaluations can be found throughout this leaflet. Online Ram Search – Find this facility on

Sales Catalogues – see explanations of the Sheep Ireland catalogue in this leaflet Performance recorded Ram Sales – Sheep farmers have many options in where to find performance recorded breeding rams. Inbreeding checker – allowing Sheep Ireland to assess inbreeding risks in populations of performance recorded sheep. 8 Commercial Flocks There are 34,000 individual flocks in existence in Ireland with a total breeding ewe population of 2.5 million. These will be the ones that can benefit from a strong genetic improvement programme. Better genetics, mean faster growing lambs,

better breeding ewes and ultimately better profits. Better sheep genetics can be improved, on an annual basis – demand for top genetics by commercial farmers will drive this genetic improvement.

Flock performance recording – the basics Why is performance recording so useful? – In every flock there are sheep that consistently outperform others, however very often it is extremely difficult to identify the top/bottom performers.

The Proof Similarly the lifetime performance of breeding rams used on the farm can be very different – Figure 1 below illustrates the difference that has been recorded between the lambs produced from 5 Star rams Vs 1 Star rams (On the Production Index).

An ounce of breeding is better than a tonne of feeding! The above table illustrates that on average there is a 3kg difference in the lamb weights from lambs born to 5Star rams over 1Star rams. This is due to better genetics. Farmers should remember that genetic gain is permanent; it will be retained by the sheep within your flock and can be built on further going forward. Unfortunately bad genetics will work in the very same way. The €uro-Star indexes can help farmers avoid these bad genetics. Concentrate feeding is a major cost on most sheep farms. Although expensive the effect of concentrates on animal performance can be very good, however as soon as concentrate supplementation ceases, so too does the boost in animal performance. Better genetics will always deliver better performance, and the great thing about genetics is that they can be improved, year on year. Figure 1

Where to find €uro-Star Rams?

There are a wide range of options available to farmers when looking for €uro-Star rated rams. The main ones are: • If you wish to purchase rams direct from a breeder’s farm, the details of breeders in your area are available via the Sheep Ireland website, through the on-line ram search facility. Just go to where you will find the search and a video which shows how this great facility can be used. • This on-line ram search facility will also provide details in relation to the €uro-Star evaluations of individual rams. • All the main breed societies hold a host of sales around the country each Autumn and within these sales you will find €uroStar recorded rams. STAP farmers are encouraged to keep an eye on local and national farming press for details of these sales. • STAP farmers are encouraged to contact the breed society of the relevant breed of ram being sought after and details of local sales will be provided. All the main breed societies have official websites where contact details are available. • There will be society ram sales for all breeds taking place in every region around the country during the months of August, September and October. There will be STAP eligible rams present at the vast majority of these sales, however farmers should always contact the relevant society representative to check ram availability in advance of each sale. • Go to for a full list of Performance recording breeders and a list of all the society contacts for breeds that are currently participating in performance recording. • There will be specific Performance recorded ram sales taking place during from August. These include: – The Sheep Ireland multi-breed ram sale in Tullamore – 24th August – The National Sheep Breeders Association STAP sale in Roscrea – 28th August – The National Sheep Breeders Association STAP sale in Blessington – 14th September

All you need to know about Task 1 of STAP Task 1 (As appears in STAP Terms & Conditions) This task is compulsory in either year 1 or year 2. Increase the genetic merit of the flock by using a ram of superior genetic merit. Participants must use a performance recorded €uroStar ram bred by a Lamb Plus breeder as certified by Sheep Ireland. Participants will be required to produce evidence to Sheep Ireland of purchase in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 or 2014 of a pedigree ram that has been performance recorded by Sheep Ireland. The ram must be 3, 4 or 5 Star on either Production, Maternal or Lambing sub index. The ram must be used to mate ewes in either year 1 or 2 of the programme. The minimum requirement is one €uroStar recorded ram satisfying the above criteria per participating flock. Hill farmers with a majority of ewes that consist of Blackface Mountain, Cheviot, or a cross of these breeds do not have to pick this task as a compulsory task. This task will be verified by Sheep Ireland.

Questions & Answers about Task 1 Q: Do I need to pay a membership fee and be a member of Sheep Ireland to partake in this option? A: No Q: What if I already have a €uro-Star recorded ram, do I need to purchase another one? A: No. As long as your current €uro-Star recorded ram is used in the year that you choose Task 1, there will be no requirement to purchase another €uro-Star ram. You will however be required to send details of the ram to Sheep Ireland along with a copy of the dispatch docket you received when you purchased the ram. There is a ‘Ram form’ available on and this will need to be submitted to Sheep Ireland. Q: How can I check if my ram is already €uro-Star rated? A: There are a number of options: 1. Contact the breeder from which you purchased your ram. The breeder will know if the ram was performance recorded or not. 2. Go to and enter the identity details of your ram in the Sheep Ireland online ram search (Please note your ram may have two identities – the official department tag number and/or his Pedigree society identity. For instructions on how to use the Sheep Ireland ram search, there is a short help video available on the website. 3. Submit the details of your ram to your STAP group facilitator and these will check the ram for you. 4. Contact Sheep Ireland directly with the ram details at hand. Q: Where can I find a Performance Recorded €uroStar ram bred by a LambPlus breeder? A: The options available to farmers have already been detailed in this leaflet. Q: If I am a hill farmer and I purchase hill breed rams only – where can I find them? A: There is currently a low number of Pedigree hill sheep breeders’ performance recording their sheep with Sheep Ireland. If your flock is predominantly hill sheep – greater than 50% (according to your 2013 sheep census form), then you can choose to avoid this Task. You will however need to choose one of the 9 optional tasks in place of Task 1. Q: How many Pedigree ram breeders are performance recording their rams annually? A: In 2012 Sheep Ireland performance recorded 300 pedigree flocks. This figure grew from a figure of 220 in 2011. Q: How many Pedigree rams have been performance recorded by Sheep Ireland? In 2012 just over 6000 Pedigree rams were performance recorded. The Sheep Ireland scheme began in 2009 and there has been almost 20,000 rams performance recorded to date. The number of rams being recorded annually has been growing exponentially in response to the growth in breeders participating in the scheme. Q: What breeds are being recorded currently? A: Certain breeds are participating in stronger numbers than others. The strongest participating breeds in terms of number of rams being performance recorded annually are as follows: Highest availability • Texel • Belclare • Suffolk • Charollais • Mayo Mountain • Vendeen • Lleyn • Ile de France • Easy Care

Lower availability • Rouge de L’Ouest • Hampshire Down • Blue Faced Leicester

• Belgian Beltex • Shropshire

Q: What if I am currently using very rare breeds of sheep which are not being performance recorded by Sheep Ireland? A: In very special cases an exemption from Task 1 will be granted to farmers. Reason Q: What measurements do Sheep Ireland record on farms? A: Sheep Ireland asks each Pedigree Breeder to record the following • Sire & Dam of every lamb born • Date of Birth • All lambing difficulty & lamb deaths • Lamb birth weights • 40 day lamb weights (to assess ewe milk) • Weaning weight • Ultrasound Muscle & Fat scan • Mature ewe weights (to assess muscle & fat depth) We also record Feacal Egg Counts (to assess worm resistance) and Lameness incidence (to assess susceptibility to footrot) on the Sheep Ireland MALP & CPT commercial flocks. Q: What traits do Sheep Ireland promote in the €uroStar indexes? A: The three traits are as follows • Production (Growth trait) • Maternal (Milk, ability to rear lambs efficiently) • Lambing (Lamb survival, lambing difficulty) *A Health trait is currently being developed. Q: What is the most important trait? A: This will vary from farmer to farmer and from flock to flock. A farmer needs to identify the aspect of their flock they wish to improve most. Q: Are the €uroStar analysed across all the different breeds. A: No. The €uroStars are calculated within breed only. For example a 5 Star Texel ram on the Lambing Trait cannot be compared to a 5 Star Belclare ram on the Lambing Trait. The Texel ram is 5 Star within the Texel breed that is currently being performance recorded. Same applies to all traits. Q: Is there an intention to have across breed evaluations? A: Yes. When we have collected sufficient information from breeds we will do this. We have sufficient information collected from some breeds, but until such time as other breeds participate in stronger numbers – we cannot run an across breed evaluation. Q: When a ram is 5 Star, what does it mean? A: It means the ram is in the top 20% of the recorded sheep within that breed for that particular trait. 1 Star represents the bottom 20%. Q: What is Accuracy %? A: Accuracy % is one of the most important aspects of the €uroStar evaluations. Low accuracy % illustrates that the sheep evaluation has been calculated using a small amount of information. The more information available for evaluation, the higher the accuracy % will be. When using the €uroStar evaluations to purchase a breeding ram, always attempt to find the highest accuracies possible. If a breeder has low accuracies, you need to ask why. Q: What is a high accuracy? A: At the current levels of participation in the scheme accuracy levels are not where Sheep Ireland would like. The highest accuracy % being recorded varies across the traits. • Production – High accuracy = 45%+ • Maternal – High accuracy = 30%+ • Lambing – High accuracy = 30%+

Please direct any further questions on STAP Task 1 to the Sheep Ireland offices on 023 8820454. Alternatively, please email



Sheep Ireland Online Ram Search The Sheep Ireland Online Ram Search can be found at and it allows sheep farmers to search for a performance recorded ram on a variety of criteria. Any combination of criteria can be used in the search and the more criteria used, the more refined the results. To use the search, enter your criteria, and then select the ‘Search’ button. If you already know the NSIS or pedigree identity of a ram you can also enter these details into the ram search as directed below. However, if you are simply searching for a performance recorded ram to purchase you should proceed directly to the ‘Advanced Search’

Ensure you have a FULL tag number when looking up your ram on Here’s how a full tag number should be entered: 1. Enter IE04 + designator (5 digits) + individual animal number (5 digits) + the check letter 2. IE04 + 12345 + 00123 + A = IE041234500123A You may also have a Pedigree identity for your ram Here’s how most Pedigree identities should be entered: 1. Enter flock prefix ABC + Year (2 digits, e.g., 13)+ individual animal number (3-5 digits, e.g., 023) 2. ABC + 13 + 023 = ABC13023

Advanced Search • Date of Birth. To search by date of birth, you need to enter a ‘from’ date and ‘to’ date. The search will then return all animals born between those two dates. You can used the calendar beside these boxes to select the required dates. • Animal Age. This dropdown menu allows the user to search for all animals of a certain age. • Number of Progeny. Number of offspring the animal has had. • Breed. You must select a breed before every advanced search. You may only select one breed at a time. • Owner Location. The animal can be searched for by the county where the owner of the animal is located. Only one or all counties can be selected at a time. Scroll down the list to find the required county and click on it, or tick the ‘Select All’ tick box to search by all counties. ‘Select All’ will be ticked by default. • STAP (Sheep Technology Adoption Programme) Eligible Only. Select this box if you only want to search for rams that are eligible for the STAP scheme • €uro-Star Traits within Breed. This allows breeders to select animals to match their own tailored criteria. To include any of these traits in the search, tick the corresponding tick box to enable the dropdown, then select from the dropdown the values you wish to search by. When you have selected the criteria you wish to search for, click the ‘Search’ button in the bottom right square of the screen. If you are encountering any problems or if you have any queries on anything to do with the Sheep Ireland Ram Search or Sheep Ireland please do not hesitate to contact us on 1890 600 900 or email us at query@sheep.

SHEEP IRELAND Highfield House, Shinagh, Bandon, Co Cork. Tel +353 (023) 8820222 Email:

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Sheep Ireland STAP Task 1  

A brief overview of the €uro-Star indexs and a Q and A section on Task 1 of the Sheep Technology Adoption Programme (STAP)

Sheep Ireland STAP Task 1  

A brief overview of the €uro-Star indexs and a Q and A section on Task 1 of the Sheep Technology Adoption Programme (STAP)