This is certainly within your reach Andy, Lambplan has a number of features that would be of special interest to you, such as fec ebvs, and fleece quality.
Thanks Janet, Im not trying to make any great influence here- just some rambling thoughts -
I kept personal production records on all my ewes for 16 yrs up until I began AI seriously in 05' when at that time I had around 150 ewes. At that point the production histories were a great tool to know which ewes to put into the AI "elite" group, I could easily see the production following the generations within a family group but I did everything the hard way on paper - In retrospect I should have used LP!
Once I started introducing new blood with the AI program I quit keeping production records but opted rather to keep upgrading the successive crops of AI ewe lambs with the new AI rams. I put alot of trust in the quality & integrity of the AI rams that I used. The rams I liked the offspring of the most did indeed have impressive EBV's but in my case I discovered this after I had the lambs.
My interest now is with a breed (like your Ill de France) that also has been developed with EBV,s since the late 1930's. I like knowing that a certified ram from this breed is pre-potent (for the established breed traits) without having to dig thorough a bunch of numbers. Just seems logical that breeds should work this way.
Then again, if I knew and liked the sheep from an honest, dedicated breeder who kept good production records without the aid of LP (such as before LP began); then I would still consider purchasing genetics from him / her. After all look at all the animal breeding accomplishments that took place throughout history before computers were working up algorithms.
In the case of wool traits, much of the "data" is ridding on the sheep's back just begging for some keen shepard to come along and make an industry out of it. Combine this with the fact that wool traits are so highly inheritable ... and bingo you have a focused, concentrated genetic effort that has yielded an extraordinary product that has been in the making for perhaps a thousand years or more - wool so fine & stylish that it now competes with cashmere which just a short time ago (relatively speaking) would have been unheard of. I am sure the power of the EBV tool sped up this development since coming on the scene but am also confident that many a savvy breeder over all those years had some pretty keen insights & intuition that led significant contributions to the effort.
Is this type of animal breeding an art or science or is it both and if so how much of each?
Unfortunate that other production traits are so hard to "see".
I don't follow the DNA research / developmants closely, but I wonder what the next major development in animal breeding will be? I have heard some on this forum talk about DNA to id lambs and that would be a huge improvement - the labor of eartags is huge - I hate the problem of eartag loss and the hassle of tattoos.
How slick if (perhaps some day) many production traits could be seen with DNA analysis, such as can now be done with wormstar for parasite resistance.
Again just rambling thoughts - forgive me for getting on my wool kick again - it seems like whenever I get talking sheep, I eventually end up talking about wool