A ram’s health and virility are closely linked. When your rams are healthy and productive, your entire business, and bottom line, reaps the benefits. Here’s how to make tupping season feel less like a lottery.
HEALTHIER RAMS, HEALTHIER PROFITS
A healthy ram can serve up to 100 ewes in a single season. However, one that’s in less than peak condition will have a much diminished capacity. This could have a huge impact on your profits. The good news is that a simple health check, can help you ensure your rams avoid common problems. This can dramatically improve performance during the mating season.
WHEN SHOULD YOU PERFORM HEALTH CHECK-UPS ON YOUR RAMS?
Outlined below are the four main areas to check when inspecting your ram(s). It’s best to perform these health checks around ten weeks before tupping. That will give you time to correct most minor health issues that could impact virility if left unresolved.
BODY CONDITION SCORE
Rams that are too lean or too overweight will struggle to perform to their potential during mating season. Resultantly they may serve fewer ewes than you may have hoped. Use body condition scoring to assess your rams, tweaking their intake of feed as necessary in order to make sure they are in optimum physical condition for tupping.
The condition of a ram’s teeth is a great indicator of overall health and nourishment. Teeth that are in poor condition suggest an imbalanced diet that is lacking certain nutrients, which can result in a lean ram in poor body condition. Rams should be fed a high protein diet for at least the ten weeks before tupping.
Healthy testicles produce up to 80% more semen than those that are in poor condition or have suffered testicular degeneration. Make sure your rams’ testicles are equal in size. They should also be as firm as a flexed bicep, a soft testicle betrays problems with virility. Also remember that ram sperm takes seven weeks to mature. That’s another reason to look for positive signs of virility several weeks before the mating season begins.
LEGS & HOOVES
Even seemingly trivial issues with a ram’s legs or hooves can have a marked impact on tupping performance come mating season. You want your ram to be able to serve as many ewes as possible. Unfortunately, a ram will not fulfil their potential if they are struggling with leg or hoof problems. Look for abnormalities and check older rams for arthritis. Feet can be treated for conditions such as foot rot. However, more serious problems may be untreatable and you may have to consider culling. Healthy profits depend on a flock that’s in optimal condition.
OVER TO YOU...
Completing a few simple health checks will make it easier to make sure your rams are in optimal condition for tupping season. Perform these checks around ten weeks before the season begins to give time to implement any necessary corrective action. And remember to help promote good health across your flock by following a vaccination programme against clostridial diseases and other common conditions such as abortion.
For further information, be sure to download the AHDB guide.
For further information contact Zoetis UK Limited, Walton Oaks, Dorking Road, Tadworth, Surrey KT20 7NS. www.zoetis.co.uk. Customer Support: 0845 300 8034. Use medicines responsibly (www.noah.co.uk/responsible). Date of preparation: September 2017 AH726/17