Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting DST to 80360 or email us
Survey to understand ram fertility launched
3:22pm Friday 16th August 2013 in Farming
ACHIEVING five tonnes of lamb output each year from a tup is a realistic target for commercial flocks with productive ewes, according to Eblex.
However, the average is closer to 2.9 tonnes per tup and the Eblex Better Returns Programme (BRP) is working with vets in Cumbria, Northumberland and Devon, to survey commercial rams before the start of this breeding season.
They will do more than 200 ram MOTs, across a range of breeds and locations. The information collected will be used to understand if and why rams are failing their annual MOT and the level of fertility problems.
Results will be available from late autumn.
Dr Liz Genever, Eblex senior livestock scientist, said farmers could calculate how much lamb their rams produced last year by multiplying the number of ewes put to each tup by the number of lambs reared per ewe, multiplied by the average sale weight.
For example: 70 x 1.71 x 42 = 5 tonnes of lamb per tup.
The first step in achieving a five-tonne target is having the confidence to go for the optimum ewe to ram ratio, which needs rams to be fit, ready to work and fertile.
Dr Genever said: “This year there is a risk that recent hot weather will reduce ram fertility, as testicular degeneration can occur after over-heating.
“The scrotum is rich in sweat glands that cool the testicles if it is able to hang in the breeze. However, sheep will pant and lie down when they are hot, to transfer heat away from their bodies through their abdomen.
“By doing this, rams are lying on their testicles and ‘cooking’ them. To help avoid this, ensure rams are shorn, have adequate shade, plenty of water and are not over-fat. Remember, it takes around seven weeks for sperm to be produced.”
She said a simple ram MOT ten weeks before tupping would allow replacements to be sourced or treatments given. This involves the five Ts: toes, check his locomotion, arthritis and feet; teeth, check for under or over shot teeth, gaps and molar abscesses; tone, aim for body condition between 3.5 and 4.0 (spine well covered); treat, ensure vaccinations are up-to-date and check for parasites and lameness; testicles check firmness (they should feel like a flexed bicep) with no lumps or bumps. Measure the circumference around the widest part, with the targets for mature rams being >36cm and ram lambs >34cm.
Comments are closed on this article.