Zootech and Kinship

Official recognition of the breed – ZOOTECH and using Kinship Reports


The Cotswold Sheep Society is now a recognized UK Breed Society and is registered with Defra as part of the Zootech rules and regulations, the rules and standards set out must be followed to enable the Society to trade breeding animals, semen and embryos following Brexit.

To become officially recognized the Society, to ensure the integrity of the breed is maintained, must prove a number of things which include

  • Keeping a breeding book (Flock Book) for the National Flock
  • Publish a breeding program for the Breed (see “The ideal Cotswold and Points of disqualification and undesirable characteristics)
  • Have rules which govern membership (see Rules and Regulations in the Flock Book).
  • Have sufficient population of breeding animals within geographical territories (England, Wales, and Scotland).
  • Operate efficiently, e.g. handle and store information safely (GDPR).
  • Be able to check the recording pedigrees of breeding animals (Grassroots).
  • Be able to generate and use data, where appropriate, collected on breeding animals (Kinship).

A breed society can have official recognition but does not have to trade with other countries, although the option is there if necessary, but having official recognition maintains confidence in the integrity of the breed.

To fulfil our Society Zootech requirements we will need to add a clause to our Rules and Regulations in the Flock Book. The following addition, which has been approved by Zootech, will be submitted to our members for approval at the 2021 AGM. If in future we no longer wish to participate in the Zootech programme, we may withdraw.

‘The Cotswold Sheep Society will enter into the flock book, on entry into the UK, animals of the same breed that comply with both the breed standard and are eligible for entry under the breeds strict breed criteria as detailed in the flock book rules, without discrimination on account of their country of origin.

As part of the requirements for the Breeding Program the Society must prove the method of checking genetic evaluation, explaining the system used.  As the Society uses the Grassroots recording system, like the majority of other breed societies, Grassroots, to help societies comply, has a tool has already been implemented to do this – Kinship Reports.

Kinship Reports

The golden rules for the conservation breeding in a rare breed population as a whole are: 

  • Use as many males as possible
  • Not keep too many offspring from any one male.  For rarer breeds no one male should produce more than 5% of the offspring born in any one generation, that is to say an absolute minimum of 20 males working in each generation
  • Minimize inbreeding (i.e. where possible use males unrelated to your females.

Kinship analysis can be used to help members interested in the conservation of the breed to select males for their flocks.

It is an indication of how closely related two animals are to each other and is the “what if” inbreeding coefficient for any prospective mating.

Please remember that using kinship is only one way of selecting males, males should also conform to breed standards which is of vital importance and should be a sound healthy ram.

The kinship report is now offered to members, free of charge.  If you have one or more rams the report can show you the relationship of one or all of your ewes to each ram.  If you are considering keeping a ram lamb of your own breeding, then a report can show you how close the relationship is to your breeding flock, or, if you wish to check relationships of a intended purchase, male or female, to your breeding flock it can be done.

The reports are quite interesting and often show things that you normally either think you have sorted, or are unaware of, or forgotten about.  For instance, it may well show that your old ram that you have had for some time has few females in you flock, whether this is because he has not bred many or you have for whatever reason sold more than you expected. If he is a favorite and you like his offspring, it means that you can keep him just a bit longer and use him.

If you would like to obtain a kinship report on your own rams, or rams you are considering buying, please contact the Secretary in the first instance.