22 August 1997

Pre-tupping care pays with rams

RAMS account for half the sheep flock, but are often forgotten about until just before tupping.

But some care and attention now will pay dividends, says Norfolk-based Signet consultant James Garner.

"Tups should be checked thoroughly 10 weeks before tupping is due to start. This will allow plenty of time to replace those rams which they feel are not up to standard."

Feet and legs should be checked to ensure they are straight and sound, and front teeth must sit straight on the pad, he says. "Also look to see whether rams have had sores on their brisket from the raddle and tupping activity. These animals should be culled if treatment is unsuccessful, as they are unlikely to work so well."

Testicles should be checked to ensure they are even in size, and move freely within the scrotum. They should feel firm, but not hard, and there should be no lumps or soft swellings. If they feel flaccid, rather than soft, sperm production may be poor.

The epididymis, at the tail of the testes, should be about the size of a walnut, says Mr Garner.

"Check the penis moves freely within the prepuce and that there are no sores or signs of infection."

Routine operationssuch as feet trimming and dipping – which might cause stress and upset sperm production – should be done at least six weeks before tupping, warns Mr Garner.

"Sperm production takes six weeks. In order to avoid reducing fertility at tupping any stressful tasks must be completed before then."

TUP MANAGEMENT

&#8226 Ensure sufficient ram power.

&#8226 Minimise stress.

&#8226 Feed concentrate.

TUP MANAGEMENT

&#8226 Ensure sufficient ram power.

&#8226 Minimise stress.

&#8226 Feed concentrate.

Check testicles to ensure they are even in size and move freely within the scrotum.