While Geraint Thomas put Wales on the map in the Tour de France, another Welsh star of a different kind has also proven to be outstanding in their field.

A Welsh-bred ram is currently leading the pack for overall carcase merit in the RamCompare results tables, the UK's first central progeny test.

RamCompare is a research venture which analyses data from different breeds and at various points in the supply chain to strengthen genetic evaluations and help sheep breeders produce animals in line with consumer demand.

The eagerly anticipated RamCompare results have confirmed that a Texel ram (PAP1501802) bred by Alwyn Phillips of Pen-y-Gelli, Caernarfon, is currently the number one ram in the country.

RamCompare is part funded by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC). The venture started in 2015 and over 70 rams have been tested on commercial farms, with a further 60 already on-test for phase two.

Welsh ram breeder and leading RamCompare participant Alwyn Phillips commented; “From the project’s inception I was eager to nominate my rams for RamCompare; it is a fantastic opportunity for them to be tested under commercial conditions against their top performing peers.”

Mr Phillips’ Pengelli flock has been performance-recorded for over 30 years and he has been CT scanning since 1996. The closed flock has a high health status and consists of around 200 ewes.

It is vitally important to the system that rams perform in a commercial environment and produce lambs consistently to market specification. Through utilising technologies such as CT scanning Mr Phillips has been able to tailor his breeding decisions to ensure his rams are fit for purpose.

“More and more pressure is put on commercial systems to reduce costs and to utilise home-grown forages; my breeding decisions have focused on rams that perform exceedingly well in grass-based systems specifically in terms of muscling and growth” stated Mr Phillips.

Gwawr Parry, HCCs Industry Development Officer commented; “Selecting breeding stock with high performance figures is widely recognised as an effective tool for increasing economic returns and efficiency of livestock production.”

“This is achieved by identifying the best performing animals on weight gain, conformation, and maternal value. It is imperative that farmers make informed decisions now in order to achieve the best results next year.”

She added, “As the ram sale season approaches, now would be a good time to review the flocks’ performance this year and set targets for next year, starting with what genetics should be introduced.”

“Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are also a useful tool to help predict the progeny performance. This, combined with a sound physical assessment - the 4 T’s; Teeth, Tone, Toes and Testicles - should ensure the best performance.”

RamCompare will soon be entering its fourth breeding season where more rams will be put to the test across Britain and, like the Tour de France teams, breeders like Alwyn will be working hard to ensure their rams get their names on the RamCompare results table.

For ram breeders who would like their own chance to take the RamCompare yellow jersey, ram nominations for the next season of RamCompare will open in early 2019. More information will soon be available on the RamCompare and Hybu Cig Cymru websites.