With silaging almost over many farmers will be focusing on the condition and nutrition of their ewes ready for the next breeding season.
But what about their rams? As the ram sale season begins, sheep producers are being encouraged to consider the health status of their tups, in order to make the most of their investment.
According to a survey conducted by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) on the management of rams pre and post-tupping, 56% of farmers could potentially improve the way they maintain the condition of their rams for the breeding period.
Members of HCC’s industry development team recently attended the Early NSA ram sale at Builth Wells. As well as helping to promote Signet Breeding Services’ breeding sale campaign ‘Seek out the standard’, where gold and silver tags will be available for breeders to indicate which rams have the best Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs), the sale was also an opportunity to share HCC’s 2016 survey results and discuss ram management with breeders and vets.
“Simply turning rams out to a field for winter could mean that some ailments are being left unseen or untreated and can become a bigger problem at the end of the summer,” said HCC’s Industry Development Officer Gwawr Parry.
“It is important to undertake a full ‘ram MOT’ prior to the breeding season, looking at their testicles, body condition score, feet and teeth, and whether their vaccinations and fluke treatments are up to date,” said Gwawr. “Ensuring rams are at peak condition could make a difference of hundreds of pounds in financial returns for farm businesses.”
Tom Searle from South Wales Farm Vets is one of the increasing numbers of vets who have initiated a ram fertility package available to farmers to test their ram teams. The package was available to farmers for last year’s breeding season and will be continuing this year.
“It is important that farmers are aware of their rams’ fertility status as well as applying the correct management strategy. A ram that is sub-fertile could be costing farms in terms of barren ewes and an increase in lambing spread,” said Tom.
HCC’s booklet ‘Fit, Fertile and Profitable: the year-round approach to ram management’ contains a wealth of advice and tips. It can be ordered by contacting HCC on 01970 62 5050 or via the hccmpw.org.uk website.