Sir, – I am the owner of the highest indexed flock of performance recorded Texel sheep, so I am not anti-performance recording. However, I have become increasingly disillusioned by the way the civil servants who run Signet and how they classify the sheep.

The recent results from RamCompare show the stand out ram of the 400 rams plus Texels is Grey Peel Lear Jet based on a combination of lean weight and carcase quality as he is top on both counts. This Texel was born in 2005 and his terminal sire index of 120 puts him in the bottom 25% of the breed, with a 96% accuracy rating.

His lean weight EBV puts him in the bottom 5%, yet he is the No 1 for lean weight in Ram Compare. Well, he was the No 1 for lean weight when I started writing this, but for some reason the report disappeared off the website, and then when it reappeared lean weight was replaced with carcase weight.

So, which figures are breeders to believe? The No 1 of around 400 sires tested on commercial farms, or in the bottom 5% of the Texel breed?

I am aware that the Texel EBVs are no longer the responsibility of Signet, but these historic EBVs were produced by Signet. How can they state that their recording system is resulting in great gains in genetic merit in the past five years and produce wonderful graphs all going skyward, when their No 1 ram was born 15 years ago?

The genetic gains quoted are just paper gains. Academics do not build into the equation the fact there is always reverse selection by nature going on.

In wild herds of cattle, deer and sheep, there was natural selection for the fittest, as only the strongest most agile males would beat the opposition and sire the next generation. Yet that was just to maintain the status quo.

Racehorses are selected for one thing – the speed at which they can run as three-year-olds over an undulating horseshoe-shaped course on Epsom Downs, in June. This was the first 'performance test'.

If horses had EBVs they would improve with every generation as the best males get the best females but it does not work like that. Northern Dancer – the greatest ever racehorse sire – was 19 years of age when he sired a son that was equal to him; Saddlers Wells born in 1981, was 16 when he sired Gallileo, which then sired the unbeaten Frankel which, in turn, has had the best mares in the world, but he has not superseded his sire.

With all this selective breeding one would expect the Derby record to be broken quite often but no. It has only been broken twice since Mahamoud won at 32 min 36 secs – in 1936, Lamtarra won in 32 min 32.33secs and in 2010, when Work Force won in 32 min 31.3

Last year I produced the highest ever indexed sheep in Vorn Courage with a terminal sire index of 467, which is 10% above the No 2. How can this be possible in a bred population of 60,000 lambs a year.

He got these amazing figures because he was the shortest bodied sheep in my flock. Therefore, compared to a long ET brother that was heavier, he had very high Eye Muscle area for his weight. This was because when last year's Ram compare results came out and the high muscled rams did not produce the best carcases they altered the eye muscle EBV to % of weight whereas before that it had just been for age. They had jumped out of the frying pan into the fire.

This letter is not sour grapes, it is just it infuriates me that civil servants, who have never bred anything tell us how to breed livestock.

I informed them all along that they were handicapping length of spine and took Vorn Courage to a later CT scan at Aberystwyth to prove my point, and his index shot up from 350 to over 460. I would add that the No 2 ram in RamCompare is by ex-stock sire, Antur Wythaberyst, and wonder how these new figures will affect his stats.

What I would like to know is why are there no figures for ease of lambing, gestation period, birth weight and survivability? I would have thought that these are the basic building blocks.

What is the point of fast growing, good carcase sheep if a large percentage die at birth from heavy weights, bad shape or overlong gestation times or shortly after from lack of vigour?

A survivability index would bring into reckoning all losses from birth, the affects of difficult births, low intake of colostrum, small birthweight and poor vigour. I am sure there must be enough information in RamCompare to produce such an index.

John Vaughan

Vorn Texels,