Sylvaine Lacrosse BVetMed MRCVS, Molecare Veterinary Services
With tupping season soon approaching, it is time to start thinking about putting your rams through their yearly MOT. This should be done at least 10 weeks pre-tupping as it gives you a chance to sort issues out in individual rams or even to get hold of a new ram if necessary.
Some flocks will put over 100 ewes per ram, but if a ram isn’t at his best, he won’t be anyway near as efficient as he needs to be, leading to disappointing barren rates at no fault of the ewes.
Below, we will go through what a ram MOT entails and the things to look out for such as the teeth, testicles and the toes.
Look inside the mouth for any gaps, molar abscesses, undershot or overshot teeth.
Good teeth will ensure the rams can eat properly during tupping, which is particularly energy-consuming.
Feel for evenness between the two testicles. We want a firm consistency, like that of a flexed bicep, and any odd lumps or bumps should be a red flag.
Time to get the tape measure out!
Below are a few guidelines for scrotal circumference:
- Mature Rams
Lowland breeds: 36-38 cm
Highland Breeds: 34-36 cm
Lowland Breeds: 32-34 cm
Highland Breeds: 30-32 cm
- Ram Lambs
Lowland Breeds: 30 cm
Highland Breeds: 28 cm
Along with the testicles, examine the penis and prepuce. Ensure no lesions are present and that the penis can easily be extruded.
The ram needs to be able to walk well on all four feet. Observe his locomotion followed by examining each foot for lesions such as footrot or CODD.
Aim for 3.5-4 BCS at the start of the season as a ram can lose up to 15% of his bodyweight throughout tupping.
- Vaccines are up-to-date, relevant and given at the right time as advised by your vet/SQP.
- Endoparasites (e.g. worms and fluke) and Ectoparasites (e.g. scab and lice) are monitored and treated as necessary.
- Sheared for the hot weather.
If a ram ‘passes’ the above MOT, there is a strong chance he will be an efficient component of the flock! If you are unsure, involve your vet as they will be able to advise you on the things to look out for and ensure your vaccinations/treatments are relevant and up-to-date. Additionally, your vet may be able to test the semen for adequate quantity and quality.
As mentioned before an efficient working ram is a vital component of the flock. The saying, ‘The ram is half the flock’, could not be more true than at tupping, so make sure you are prepared for this critical period!
For more information on Molecare Veterinary Services, please phone 01392 872934.