Getting ready for tupping
Ensuring your rams are ready for tupping can help to ensure a successful lambing season. What do you need to do to get your tups ready?
How many rams do you need?
The standard ratio of 1:40, rams to ewes has been recommended for years but that has been challenged by progressive breeders who are producing fit, athletic rams that can mate with up to 100 ewes in a season.
These rams need to be:
- Fit condition score 3.5
- Not overfat
- Preferably well used to a grass diet
- Fully sound and unlikely to succumb to lameness at a critical point in the mating period.
Consider vaccinating against foot rot as a preventative measure against lameness, however don't be tempted to do this too close to mating check with your vet first.
MOT all your rams at least eight weeks before tupping to check for any abnormalities.
It takes about seven weeks for sperm to be produced so it's vital to plan your ram examinations well in advance.
Check your rams for defects
90% of ram defects can be picked up on a physical examination so unless you have doubts about an individual there should be no need to semen test all rams. On some farms a proportion of rams could be tested to check that they are fertile. Key trace elements such as selenium, cobalt and zinc are important for ram fertility. If your grass is deficient in any of these elements then it will be worth offering a supplement, for example bolus, drench or in a compound feed a rate of no more than 0.5kg/head/day.
Turning out rams
Turn out rams either singly or in groups of three or more to help avoid aggressive behaviour which will distract them from their main purpose. If grass is in good supply there should be no need to feed them before or throughout tupping.
Raddling rams either with a crayon in a ram harness or simply by applying raddle paint to the brisket can help to identify whether they are working and the ewes are cycling. Harnesses need to be checked regularly for chafing.
How long do you want to be lambing for next spring?
Think about how long you want to be lambing for next spring and then decide when to pull the rams out. Two cycles of 17 days each should be enough for a well prepared flock.
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