It’s hard to believe but another year is upon us and with the days getting shorter it’s time to start thinking about letting your rams to ewes.
With a 5 month gestation letting your ram to the ewes now will make for a February lamb.
Earlier lambs incur higher costs including nut and hay for mothers with grass in short supply in January. As in previous years we have had wet winters so thinking ahead now will make life easier. The later lamb will mean less input costs and your mortality rate will go down due to kinder (we hope) weather conditions in the later end of spring.
- Check your ewes for udders, broken mouths. The last thing you want is a broken down ewe in your breeding stock.
- Is your ram up to the job? Assess how old he is and if this is the last season for him. Rams may need extra feeding ahead of tupping. Get him in prime shape because he will be busy for a few weeks.
- Cull ewes with prolapse or c sections. Its not gonna work out time to say goodbye to them. You can get maybe 90 for a good fat cull ewe put the money towards a second timer ewe.
- Ewe lambs need close attention, note them in your herd. If its their first time going to the ram note them and their numbers because most likely they will need your help in the months to come. If you have a smaller breed of ram on farm its often a good idea to start your first timers with him.
- Vaccinate and dose ewes and rams. Make sure they are all in good shape ahead of tupping.
- Foot rot and foot scald needs to be treated now. Its an ongoing concern but at tupping time its very important all stock need to be in top health.
- Check the rams testicles for signs of infertility and bad health. It is preferred they are big in size, evenly sized, firm and free from lumps. Soft or swollen testicles are a sign that a ram should be culled from the herd. Protein should be introduced in the run up if a rams condition is not up to scratch. Keeping the rams temperature at normal levels is vital for maintaining fertility.
- When choosing replacement ewes or rams, choose wisely. Only choose breed which are suitable to you and your lands. For example cross breeding mountain ewes with Belclare rams would lead to an increased litter size. Although mountain ewes, as per the name, are best suited to mountainous areas. Texel rams make a better choice for mid season lambing, or Suffolk when looking for earlier lambing and faster growth rates.
- Most important of all, ensure your animals have the best quality grass possible. It is vital they gain sufficient weight daily, and there is nothing better than good grass to ensure this.