It's tupping time and your ram is busy at the moment so busy that he might be taking care of himself properly. This week’s sheep guide is a ram guide and we are looking at how to prevent ram burn out an all too common occurrence at this time of year.
With ewes coming into heat rams can tup themselves literally to death due to over exertion and lack of diet. There are however some simple structures you can put in place to avoid this.
- Bulk up
A bit like hitting the gym you need to ensure your ram is fighting fit for tupping 2017. Keep him separated and feed him a ration daily before he is called into action. Your ram will have added some weight and muscle to his body, it means he has some fat and muscle reserves to call upon when he is at the heart of his work. In fact, a ram may loose up to 15% of his body way during the season.
2 Don’t overload him
Don’t give your ram too many ewes to cover. The coverage rate is variable for each ram depending on age, terrain, whether the ewes are synchronized and what size pasture he is operating in.
As a general rule mature rams should be on a ration of 1.35 -1.50. A ram can mate 3 to 4 times per day.
Younger rams can cover 15-30 ewes in a 34 day breeding window.
- Split flocks
If you think your ram is not up to the job split the flock. You can then opt for having a second ram to cover the separated flock or having a break period and when ram 1 has finished with flock 1 moving him to flock 2. This second option will mean making sure your ram has a rest period and that your eventual second flocks birth time will be later. If splitting flocks its often helpful to have a second ram or get a loan of a ram.
- Be observant
Like a good boxing trainer watch your man. Keep an eye on your ram. If his body score is falling rapidly he may need a rest or supplementary feeding. The supplementary feeding will be hard during the season as he literally may forget to eat. If you feel your ram is in danger of tupping himself to death which can happen remove him from the flock and rest him. He may have taken on too big of a job or be getting older. He can still be of use in a smaller flock.
The best of rams won’t get every ewe. So your ram or second ram will be needed for a repeat job. Its often handy to have a second ram to do the repeats thereby ensuring that if your first ram has become sterile you are covered for the season and will have lambs.
- Rest him up when his job is done
When his job is done don’t just let him off. Feed him for a time and help him rebuild his depleted strength and muscle. Post tupping care is just as important if you want to ensure that your ram is healthy and solid for next year.