19 August 1997

Topical tup tips

FLOCKMASTERS should ensure tup numbers are sufficient, introduce new rams gradually, and group them for work according to age if possible.

Aim for 40-45 ewes/tup, and 25-30 ewes/ram lamb, advises Borders-based Signet sheep specialist Robin Thomson.

Older tups should be used on younger ewes and vice versa. "Its also a good idea to group rams according to age. Often, if two older rams and a young one are put in together it leads to trouble. They young ram might be bullied by the older ones, which means none of them will be doing their job properly," he warns.

Newly purchased rams should be introduced to other tups slowly and carefully, says Mr Thomson. "Its common sense – introduce them at least a week before tupping begins, separated initially by a fence to keep them apart."

He warns that it pays to keep an eye on tups at this time. "Every year there are a small proportion of rams who are killed before tupping begins as a result of fighting."