TUPPING MAY be over for this year, but that’s no reason to put tups away to the furthest corner of the farm and forget about them until next autumn.

SAC sheep specialist John Vipond says tups coming off ewes should be given a thorough health check to ensure they’re good enough to keep through until next season.

“The first thing to do is to check their body condition and other general health points, such as feet and mouths. Any rams which aren’t suitable for breeding next year should be culled now, rather than carrying them round for another season.”

For those tups which are good enough to be used again next year, Mr Vipond recommends administering the full range of health treatments used on the main flock. “Rams may need a worm or a fluke dose and should be vaccinated against clostridial diseases.”

They should also be well fed through the winter to ensure they regain any condition lost while they’ve been working. “Rams need to get back to condition score 3 to 3.5 and be kept there through the winter.

“This can be done with ad-lib hay or silage and some concentrate feed. About 500g a day of lamb finisher or sugar beet pulp should be enough. However, young rams which are still growing may need more than this,” he adds.

Barnard Castle, Co Durham-based vet Fiona Lovatt says it may also be worthwhile having rams semen tested to ensure they’re up to working again next year. “If they’re not checked now, there is little point testing them again until next year.”

Additionally, tups which have been away on shared grazing should be checked for scab and any other external parasites, as this may be an indication that these conditions are widespread among the ewe flock, she adds.