30 May 1997

Make sure tup is in top shape

GOOD preparation early on is vital to ensure rams work reliably at tupping.

Thats according to Edinburgh Genetics Jon Hunton, who warns that sperm development takes six to eight weeks, so producers should consider tup management during June and July.

"Check teeth, gums, feet, legs and joints. Aim to ensure a condition score of 3-3.5 – tups carrying fat will not work as well."

Tups should be placed on a rising plane of quality protein – either soya bean or fishmeal – with sufficient roughage.

"Avoid diets which are high in magnesium, calcium or phosphate as these can contribute to urinary calculi development – this can be minimised by including a very small amount of ammonium chloride, which will acidify urine."

Individual penning will help reduce aggression between rams, and allow diet control if necessary, says Dr Hunton.

"Carry out stressful tasks such as parasite control, foot trimming, clipping and dosing with multivitamins and selenium six to eight weeks before tupping."

He also suggests checking the rams genitalia, ensuring the testes are firm, and free of soft or hard swellings. The prepuce and scrotum should be free from sores or damage.

Libido can also be checked before tupping by exposing rams to sponged oestrus ewes.

"If hes a poor worker, try repeating the introductions to the ewe."