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Irish Examiner - Farming - - GENERAL FARMING -

For most ewe flocks, mat­ing is about two months away, so it’s time to start think­ing about rams. Man­age­ment of rams in the two months prior to mat­ing is crit­i­cal from a ram fer­til­ity point of view.

Gather your rams, and do a full health check. In par­tic­u­lar, pay at­ten­tion to body con­di­tion, par­a­sites and lame­ness.

If you have had a prob­lem with ram fer­til­ity in the past, it may be a good idea to check min­eral sta­tus (se­le­nium) and speak with your vet.

Pur­chas­ing rams

Try to buy your re­place­ment rams early.

There are two clear ad­van­tages:

You will have a big­ger se­lec­tion to pick from, com­pared to buy­ing later in the sea­son when a lot of rams will al­ready have been sold. You will be able to give the ram time to ac­cli­ma­tise and get used to his sur­round­ings be­fore the de­mands of the mat­ing sea­son are upon him. Buy rams that have been per­for­mance recorded.

All the avail­able ev­i­dence sug­gests that rams with high in­dex scores pro­duce more prof­itable sheep.

Key things to look out for are as fol­lows: for ter­mi­nal rams (rams that you in­tend to slaugh­ter all the prog­eny from), you should con­sider se­lect­ing rams based on the ter­mi­nal in­dex. Also look at the subindex for lamb sur­vival, for ma­ter­nal rams that are be­ing used to breed re­place­ments, the main cri­te­ria should be the re­place­ment in­dex. for non- pro­lific breeds ( breeds other than Bel­clare, Blue­faced Le­ices­ter and Lleyn), you should se­lect rams that are strong on num­ber of lambs born. for the pro­lific breeds, you can focus on other traits such as daugh­ters’ milk, etc.

Some of the at­ten­dance at last week’s En­ergy In Agri­cul­ture 2017 event at Gur­teen Agri­cul­tural Col­lege, Co Tip­per­ary, jointly or­gan­ised by Tea­gasc, Tip­per­ary En­ergy Agency, Tip­per­ary County Coun­cil and the IFA, and spon­sored by SEAI, Bord na Mona, and Gas Net­works Ireland.

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