he post-summer ram sales season again highlights the need for Welsh farmers to continue to plan to breed for market demand if they are to maximise returns in a time of tight margins.
There is considerable evidence in recent years that more and more Welsh farmers have identified the market opportunities that match the meat they can produce and have chosen rams that deliver the most for the clear commercial advantage of their farms.
Rams account for 50 per cent of the genetics of a flock so it is crucial that a suitable specimen is purchased. Flock performance and profitability can be improved significantly by selecting rams on performance figures and utilising the best available genetics.
“Selecting breeding stock with high performance figures is widely recognised as one of the most effective tools for increasing economic returns and efficiency of livestock production,” said Gwawr Parry, Industry Development Officer at Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC).
“This is achieved by identifying the best performing animals on weight gain, conformation, and maternal value. It is imperative that farmers make informed decisions now in order to achieve the best results in the spring.
“One important consideration is the estimated breeding values (EBVs) of a ram. This will act as a guide to how an animal’s progeny will perform,” said Miss Parry.
She said there were a few simple checks that a farmer could carry out to determine whether a tup is physically fit and fertile. Farmers are encouraged to look out for lameness problems and bad teeth and to check the ram’s testicles, as any sign of swelling or hardness may indicate damage.
Miss Parry added: “A good level of feeding in the run-up to tupping will ensure that a ram is fit and not fat. It is advised that they should not go above a condition score of 3.5. A ram in peak condition will cover more ewes, which in turn will improve the efficiency and productivity of the flock, especially if the ewes are also in good health.”
More information can be found on HCC’s website which includes a range of publications such as the Ram Buyers Guide and Fit, Fertile and Profitable: The Year Round Approach to Ram Management: http://hccmpw.org.uk/publications/farming_and_industry_development/sheep_management/
To view a list of ram sales during September and October, click here