Farmers encouraged to take a hands-on approach to ram and bull fertility
Fertility problems affecting rams and bulls can cost farmers thousands of pounds in lost production.
A single underperforming ram in a 300 strong flock could reduce the farm’s lamb crop by as much as 15 per cent – or in number terms, 60 fewer lambs to sell.
Welsh red meat promotion agency Hybu Cig Cymru is offering practical interactive advice to farmers attending the Royal Welsh Show on how to identify some of the more common fertility problems affecting rams and bulls.
“Rams are expected to service at least 50 and possibly as many as 80 ewes during a six week period,” said HCC Project Executive Dewi Hughes. “If any of the rams underperform, farm profits take an immediate hit.
“But it doesn’t have to be this way. A few simple tests can be undertaken on farm to give an indication to farmers of whether their rams or bulls have fertility problems, many of which can be solved by early diagnosis.”
HCC is providing advice on its Royal Welsh stand by showing farmers how to spot potential problems.
Four pairs of full size and life-like rubber ram and bull testicles will form part of an interactive information display showing farmers how to spot potential problems.
One pair will be healthy while the other three will suffer from various problems. Farmers will be encouraged to examine the testicles to see if they can recognise the healthy pair while identifying the specific abnormality in the others.
“It is estimated that one in five rams or bulls suffers from fertility problems which may include lack of libido, physical defects or poor semen quality,” said Mr Hughes. “One of the first steps to identify and remedy the problem is for farmers to properly inspect the testicles of their rams and bulls. This gives them a good indication of whether they are fertile or not.”
Alongside the display of testicles on the stand, HCC will have a video showing farmers how to examine their livestock on farm and examples of poor semen quality as viewed under laboratory microscopes.
“HCC is offering farmers support of up to £200 towards arranging a ram and bull fertility test to be undertaken by the farm’s vet,” said Mr Hughes. “Early identification of any problems before the breeding season starts is vital to ensure a healthy lamb crop the following year.”
Further details, together with a booklet ‘Fit, Fertile and Profitable’, can be found on HCC’s website – www.hccmpw.org.uk