Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Ram Effect

The Ram Effect
Although it's going slowly, the days are starting to get shorter and those spring lambing ewes will soon begin to start cycling. If you're aiming for mid-late winter lambs, it's time to start planning for breeding season.      

To help those non-cycling ewes come into heat, sudden introduction of the ram(or a teaser)is often used and this will cause those females to ovulate in 3-4 days. Often this is a 'silent' heat and they aren't bred - but it will start them and the next estrus will be fertile.

It's important to separate the ram completely from the ewes for at least 3-4 weeks prior to this and sometimes up to 6 weeks. He must be kept out of sight, sound, and smell of the ewes. Some recommend turning the rams straight in after this separation, but there are some that suggest the rams and ewes be along a shared fenceline in sight and proximity and then turned into the same paddock.

Another practice just prior to inducing the rams is called 'flushing' the ewes, and that implies giving them a bit of grain supplement to increase their energy balance and subsequent fertility, the effect desired being to increase the numbers of ovulations and multiple births. It won't result in all triplets as in the picture above, but it will help overall numbers.

One final practice if handling the flock is to consider deworming if there has been close grazing of the pastures, or having the animals checked for their 'FAMACHA' score(more on that in a coming post)to evaluate if anemia is present. Having egg counts done prior and after deworming can help you not only assess need of deworming, but effectiveness of that if they have been treated.