The early bird catches the worm!
Sheep farmers work hard all year to try to maximise the performance and welfare of their flock. At this time of year, most flocks have weaned or are about to wean their lambs. The focus is now on finishing lambs as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. Concentrating on the health and nutrition of the lambs certainly has a significant impact on the lambs’ performance. If either of these is below par, flock performance will suffer. Despite the importance of health and nutrition, achieving high performance will be difficult without the right genetics.
The rams you introduce to your flock this year could mean the difference in having an average flock performance and a high flock performance for the next several years. Rams with poor genetics for lambing difficulty, survival and growth rate are going to result in reduced performance of the flock, or create more work for you trying to make up the difference with even better management. Luckily, there is now a way to avoid those rams.
How to find your next ram?
When selecting a ram this summer, there are several points to consider:
- Timing: Getting out to breeders/sales early means you have the pick of the crop. It also gives you sufficient time to quarantine the ram and give him time to transition to your farm’s conditions.
- Physical attributes: Check the ram is physically correct, any physical defaults such as bad feet could be passed on to their lambs and could also impact the rams ability to mate with ewes later in the year.
- EuroStars (Genetic information): EuroStars are freely available on 1000’s of ram lambs all over Ireland. The EuroStars give you an indication as to how that ram will perform in your flock.
If you intend to improve your flock’s performance and to reduce the number of “tail end” lambs next year, using a team of four and five-star rams this summer is an excellent first step.
To find a 5 Star ram in your area, go to www.RamSearch.ie. If you would prefer to buy at a sale then the Sheep Ireland Elite Multi-Breed Ram Sale in Kilkenny, Saturday August 28th is another excellent option. The largest catalogued ram sale in the country and all rams are 5 Star rams. You couldn’t go wrong.