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Performance Recording our Bluefaced Leicesters


Performance Recording our Bluefaced Leicesters

Right Bluefaced breeders, its about time we ALL moved with the times and improved our sheep further! 

Give either Helen in the office or Matt Drummond an email or phone call and get signed up to Performance Recording before lambing.

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Latest Activity: Oct 18, 2014

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Comment by Pete Webster on February 14, 2011 at 11:43

Right fellow Bluefaced breeders, its about time we ALL moved with the times and improved our sheep further!  


There is no doubting the Bluefaced Leicester has improved dramatically over the past decade, they have become Hardier, have Better Conformation, Better Mouths (on most) whilst retaining the breed characteristics regardless of what type you breed.  Visual breed points can be spotted and corrected relatively easily, where we have improved as a breed we are also slipping on other points,bad skins and poor feet/leg joints (pasterns) are becoming an issue that will need improving throughout our breed, these can hopefully be corrected by selecting the right tup to use on your females.


However, using Performance figures to improve the parts of the sheep that are unseen to the naked eye, like growth rates and muscle and fat depth must also now be considered as this will be KEY in the future of sheep production of the UK.

By using Performance Recording we will be able to enhance the performance of the Leicester. For every bonny mule ewe lamb we produce there is a mule weather lamb, he is just as important as his sisters, we now receive a good price for mule weathers in comparison to terminal sires such as Texel and Suffolk so why not try to improve your tups further for their carcass qualities without having a negative effect on your pen of show mule ewe lambs!


The Bluefaced Leicester is one of a very small handful of breeds that is failing to move with the times in this respect, we must do so to keep our foot hold in the industry as the sire of the fantastic mule ewe.  Look at all the breeds that are using Performance Recording to their advantage, Texel, Charolais, Beltex, Limousin Cattle etc etc the list goes on.


Many of the 'Mulebook' members are enthusiastic breeders, a large percentage are fairly youthful too, it is these member who are going to benefit from these improvements in the breed in the future so lets ALL embrace Performance Recording as an extra selling point to our tups and to our mule ewe lambs.  We will all record information at lambing time, about the lambs being born, so recording the data officially isn't going to be an awful lot more paperwork than we currently do.


Right enough of a lecture, give either Helen in the office or Matt Drummond an email or phone call and get signed up to Performance Recording before lambing, remember its good to break with tradition from time to time and just because Grandfather or Father didnt do it and says its all nonsence doesn't mean you don't have to do it, what have you got to lose?! 


Oh and its 50% funded by the Bluefaced society which makes it even more appealing!!

Comment by Matt Drummond on February 14, 2011 at 14:00

Pete’s comments have hit the nail right on the head. We have nothing to fear and everything to gain from performance recording our BFL flocks. This is just another tool to be used alongside the great skills that our Mule and BFL breeders already have.


The developing and advancing UK sheep industry is defiantly going to use performance recording to become more efficient, of this there is no doubt. The only decision we have to make is, are we Mule and BFL breeder are going to be part of this new sheep industry.


So get started now, with this years crop of lambs!

Comment by Hugh Henry on February 15, 2011 at 12:47
I agree with Pete's comments regarding moving the breed on and performance recording our BFL Flocks, i would all call for all BFL flocks to become MV accredited as the suffolks,Texel, Beltex etc if we are to stand on an even playing field with these breeds, we need to move our breed forward and show that we are disease free and have a higher status than a crossbred sheep.  This along with performance recording will move the BFL breed into the 21st Centuary.
Comment by jimmy bell on February 15, 2011 at 17:48
the problem with going MV is you cant try your tup lambs on the horned ewes as they are not tested on this side of the water Hugh ok for you irish boy that are all MV .As for the performance recording the more that do it the better the chances of making the breed even more dominant than the rest in the market place along with all its cross breed progeny.
Comment by Pete Webster on February 15, 2011 at 18:22
I think Jimmy is right about going MV with BFL in mainland UK, it simply wouldn't work, the BFL flocks would have to be run separately to other flocks run on the same unit, i for one can say that i can't do this, at various times of the year my blues run with the swales and mules. So, i think Hugh that unfortunately for you Irish breeders you will have to continue to blood test animals bought over here before they move across the water.
Comment by Ian R Cousin on February 15, 2011 at 20:01
What are the costs for recording ? I agree that this is a good idea but with ever increasing costs something else will have to do without . No fertiliser this year for me !
Comment by Matt Drummond on February 16, 2011 at 18:14


The costs of Performance Recording are;


Membership fee £120

+ £3 per ewe in BFL Flock

+ £175 to scan lambs at 21 weeks


If you have 30 BFL ewes this comes to about £385,
The BFL association will pay up to 50% of this for the first 3 years.


If you want more info please contact me on 0777 193 4071

Comment by Janet McQuistin on February 20, 2011 at 21:48

I'm pleased to see that there is a drive on with regard to recording Leicesters.

Like many of you here we also thought it was the way forward a number of years ago.  We offer our thoughts and experience with the scheme in the hope that it may stimulate the debate and perhaps help to focus the aims of why you are recording your animals.

We joined the recording scheme 4 years ago. This went against our better judgement, considering the results of the “Longwool Project”. The Longwool Project produced no significant results despite the sheer scale of the exercise. As far as I can remember the main finding of the final report was that the longevity of the female was the most significant factor in the profitability of a mule flock.  The fact is, any sheep farmer could have told you a hundred years ago that the longevity of your breeding females played a significant part in the profitability of any flock of any breed. This was a damming indictment, considering that the whole exercise hoped to show that mule sheep produced by high index rams would outperform those mules that had been bred by lower index rams. 


However, always being aware of the need to keep up with the fast moving and evolving sheep industry we decided to give the scheme a chance and took part in recording for nearly 3 years- as did several other BFL breeders at the same time. We stopped recording our BFLs this year (as did the other Scottish breeders that started at the same time) but we are continuing to record our Beltex.


Regrettably what we found was that the main focus of the BFL scheme was to produce improved conformation in the mule wedder lamb rather than to focus on what we want to do i.e to produce the best quality female possible from a hill type ewe. We could see nothing to be gained by sacrificing the main quality of a BFL in order to produce a wedder lamb. If you give that policy a hundred years you’ll end up with a rather plain Blue Texel!


This was backed up by the tendency of the established members of the scheme to largely ignore breeding indexes and still select their main stock sires by the method that has produced the superior Crossing Leicester that we have today.  Visual selection is still the primary driver for sire selection and then this is followed up by asking the breeder if the animal is a good crosser or is it from good crossing lines.  The point is that the Signet figures are something that merely runs in the background and are not high on the list of priorities when selecting a sire.


Can you blame them? Considering that the Longwool Project could not prove that high index Leicesters will produce a superior breeding female, then to use a concept that has been proven to have no benefits would be an act of sheer folly.


Bearing this in mind you would have to ask yourself the question.  Should I be promoting using breeding indexes as a marketing/breeding tool when I’m not prepared to use it myself when I’m buying/breeding one?

Comment by Matt Drummond on February 20, 2011 at 22:08
Performace recording meeting at Carlisle on Wednesday 23 February. If interested, please contact the association office.
Comment by Alan Watson on February 26, 2011 at 20:57

I attended the information meeting regarding Performance Recording and have spoken to a number of Mule and BFL breeders, all with numerous opinions for and against the idea. Each side of the discussion has valid comments, the facts are that it will help improve your flock but it won’t tell you which tup will get bonny mules. 


With this said I think we will give it a go while the BFL Association are willing to part fund it and see where it takes us, at least we might feel better when writing that cheque for those expensive tags this year! Talking to people it does seem a little bit like whether the glass is half full or half empty. I am in the half full brigade- For now any way.


I don’t think it will catch on with the majority until there is an obvious demand for it. This being the reason that current users have chosen not to carry on. That demand will only come when people see a benefit for the time and money invested- this demand will have to come from the buyer of the Mule. Once that buyer starts to insist on lambs sired by performance recorded sires and is prepared to pay a premium for this then mule breeders will look for this info when buying tups which will be the demand needed for the rest of the BFL breeders to follow like ‘sheep’ into the idea.


Is the demand actually there yet? I am not sure, some say it is, others say not. The way forward might be to get more info from existing mule buyers as to their interest in the scheme and to push to benefits to them as much as to the BFL try it.


An interesting idea that was suggested at the meeting was a way of distinguishing mules sired by performance recorded sires- make way for the ‘Super Mule’. This was an idea used in other breeds where they put a distinctive coloured tag to show buyers as they came into a ring that they were from a flock that uses Performance Recorded Sires. This was just an idea but one that might have some mileage in it if, and only if, the demand is there.



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