With this year’s pedigree ram sales now under way, Scottish Agricultural College sheep expert, Dr John Vipond has advised buyers not just to go for the biggest rams on sale as that can be a false economy.
In a booklet to be published next week, Dr Vipond states that success for the seller and satisfaction for the buyer comes from repeated purchases of rams that will last three to four years.
But too many die or have to be culled early because of infertility or feet and leg problems. To leave a return for the commercial farmer, rams must stay alive and mate successfully, producing vigorous lambs at birth that survive and express the improved genetics of the ram.
Research has shown that around about 20 per cent of rams needed to be culled prematurely and he states that breeding rams are being presented over-fed, which may be limiting their breeding performance.
“It is important to consider the consequences of over-feeding for the animal. It 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.”
“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 ram condition score as a guide.”
The booklet from SAC is free and will be launched at the on-farm ram sales at Logie Durno, Aberdeenshire next week.
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