The presence of a sub-fertile or infertile ram in a flock can be a real problem on a farm and affect the performance of all the ewes he runs with. It is thought that up to 10-30% of rams fall into one of these categories. Even when multiple rams are used in a group, if the dominant ram is infertile it can stop the other fertile rams from working properly.
Pre Tupping Examination
A full breeding examination of all rams 10 weeks before tupping allows for problems to be either corrected or replacements purchased if necessary.
The head to toe clinical examination, will including checking teeth to ensure the ram can eat well and maintain condition while serving. It is important to check for any wounds as pain and infl ammation will affect semen quality. Sperm production takes 6 weeks to recover after a problem, reinforcing the importance of early testing.
Rams should have a body condition score of 3.5 at the start of tupping. Too thin and they may not manage to serve all the ewes, too fat and they may have less libido, coupled with excess fat in the scrotum that can decrease fertility.
The ram’s testicles should be palpated to assess size and shape. They should be assessed for any lumps or soft areas which may indicate infection or abscesses. The size of the testicles vary with age, breed and time of year, but as a guide should be a minimum of 28-30cm for ram lambs and 34-36cm for mature rams. The penis should move freely in the prepuce and be examined for signs of abnormal growths or trauma.
Lastly, feet and limbs should be checked for any sign of lameness.
No breeding check would of course be complete without a semen sample providing intrinsic information on the quality of semen produced and if there are any abnormalities in the semen.
The benefits of ensuring your ram’s fertility is optimal has far reaching implications on profitability. A ram that is both fertile and in good health for mating will be retained longer in the flock. Thus saving on replacement costs. It will get more ewes in lamb so fewer are lost as barren.
Ewes will lamb in a shorter window of time, that is giving a tighter lambing period. A ram with greater fertility will produce more lambs on the ground. Having more lambs born in a shorter period of time will result in more kg of lamb produced by weaning time and this has the potential for a more profi table season.
Please contact us to discuss fertility testing your rams or any new additions to your flock.