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The Ram effect

15th September 2020

Its tupping time again, most of you will be well underway but here are a few tips for successful and effective tupping.

Following an absence of male contact the introduction of a male to anoestrus (non-cycling) ewes, whether he is vasectomised or entire will quickly, within 2 days, start them cycling, hence the ram effect. Sheep are short day breeders which means they begin to cycle as day length shortens, starting in September. Melatonin levels in the brain detect these changes.

So for those of you looking for lambs in March and April there should be no issue. The use of a teaser animal in the first instance to synchronise the ewes can be very useful, before introducing the ram for the main event. Ewes will be receptive to mating every 16 -18 days.

Overworking rams can have serious ill effects on fertility and lambing percentage. The recommended ratio of ram to ewe is 1:30. Raddling rams with different colours is important to assess each rams libido and detect infertility. The ram/rams should be kept in with the ewes for 35 days at least to allow all ewes to have at least cycled once and be served a second time if necessary.

Pre-breeding ram check:

  • Assess body condition score (BCS) and aim for 3.5 at time of mating
  • Mobility is extremely important, check feet and treat/trim if necessary
  • Scrotum/Penis there are many conditions which can effect fertility both physically and physiologically e.g. any increase in temperature can prevent production and maturation of sperm
  • General health any signs of disease should be investigated, and remember it takes 6-8 weeks for sperm production so illness in the 2 months before mating can also effect a rams fertility

So we look forward to seeing all those bouncing lambs next year, good luck!