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Ram Management and Purchase

Ram Management and Purchase front coverWith the challenging rise in compound prices the latest SAC booklet ‘Ram management and Purchase’ highlights cost benefits of using forage based diets for rams.

Author Dr. John Vipond says "Rams have improved serving ability from forage feeding, and together with selection based on EBVs, can  increase returns by up to £8 per lamb".

Commercial farmers are happy when rams last 3-4 years. But too many die or have to be culled early because of infertility or feet and leg problems. To leave a return they must stay alive and mate successfully, producing vigorous lambs that survive and express their improved genetics.

Trials suggests that around 20% of rams needed to be culled prematurely, and there have been concerns for many years that breeding rams are being presented over-fed, which may be limiting their breeding performance.

This is a response to strong market signals – buyers prefer the biggest rams. However it is important to consider the consequences for the animal.

Over-feeding reduces the numbers of years a ram lives and the number of ewes he mates per year. It can mask genetic merit for traits such as grazing ability and parasite resistance and cause welfare issues due to joint and kidney problems.

For these reasons we are encouraging both breeders and buyers to reconsider how rams are reared. Fundamentally, over-feeding can make sheep production less efficient, as more cereals are fed and more rams are needed. It is simple - rams that have been reared mainly off forage are likely to be fitter, more fertile and live longer and with the current cereal price less costly to produce. So there are wins for both seller and buyer from fighting the wrong market signals, using rations for rams in the booklet ‘Ram Management and Purchase’ as a guide.

Download the Booklet

Ram Management and Purchase by John Vipond

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