Breeding, Health, Nutrition and General Management Articles
With Pictures of Breeding Supplies and an Illustration of the Male Reproductive Organs
by Scott P. Greiner, Extension Animal Scientist- Sheep, VA Tech
An EPD is an estimate of the genetic value that will be passed onto the progeny of that animal
by Mike Neary - Extension Sheep Specialist -Purdue University
The ram also requires adequate nutrition to optimize productivity. Poor nutrition may result in poor fertility and reduced vigor. During most of the year, the nutrients necessary to keep the ram in moderate condition will come from pasture or harvested forage. The ram should be flushed similarly to the ewes in preparation for the breeding season and supplementation should continue for a month into the season. The ram should also be prevented from getting fat. An over-conditioned ram will be less efficient reproductively.
Rams should have a body condition score of 3.5 to 4 before the beginning of the breeding season. Once turned in with the ewes for breeding, rams spend very little time eating. They can lose up to 12 percent of their body weight during a 45-day breeding period. That equates to 30 pounds for a 250 pound ram. Poor nutrition is a major cause of ram mortality. As the sheep industry has moved away from smaller framed, earlier maturing types of sheep to larger framed, later maturing types of sheep, they have increased the rams' mature body weight. In many cases, forage alone is not adequate nutrition for placing rams in proper body condition for the breeding season. At the very least, rams should be evaluated for body condition six weeks before breeding. Thin rams should receive grain supplementation as a means to increase body weight and condition. It takes 50 days and approximately 2.5 pounds of corn per day in addition to a ram's normal diet to move him from a weight of 225 pounds to 250 pounds. Mature rams, not in breeding, can be maintained on pasture or wintered on good quality hay. Six to eight pounds of mixed grass and clover hay is sufficient to meet the daily energy requirements of a 250 pound ram. A free choice source of water, salt, and minerals should be available at all times.
This page was last updated on: October 26, 2008
Cross Your Heart Breeding Harness
Made for Premier of durable harness leather, extra soft nylon straps and strong, simple snap connections. Specifically designed to fit to and stay on the smaller briskets commonly found on ram lambs, goat bucks and the adult rams of smaller breeds.
Raddle Marker (Our Favorite)
Raddle eliminates need for marking harness altogether but it is more mess and work than a harness. No risk of injury to ram. Expect to apply fresh raddle every 2 – 5 days. Best if the brisket and neck have at least 2 – 3 months’ wool on them to absorb/release the paste. Produces long-lasting, bright marks. Scourable.
Nylon Breeding Harness
A proven USA-made design that works very well. The soft, durable nylon straps are long enough for the largest ram. Strong plastic snap buckles also allow infinite adjustment. Best choice for mature rams of medium and large breeds that have large briskets. They are less prone to slip around on the ram if it has 3 months of wool growth.
Made exclusively for Premier. Simply the best crayons we’ve tried or supplied (and we’ve gone “thru” many bad ones over the past 25 years). The hot ones are reported to hold up better than any other “hot” crayon in the high night time temperatures of mid-summer. A metal pin and 2 plastic pins are supplied with each crayon. Available for 3 average daily high temperature ranges: