Using Ram Lambs for Breeding

Ted H. Doane, Extension Sheep Specialist, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
(Previously published online the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension: August 1986)

Although this publication is a bit dated, it still provides quality content as it relates to the use of ram lambs for the upcoming breeding season. As producers begin to search for their next sire for 2022, remember not to discount some of the younger stock. As with anything else, diligent management and attention to detail will be of great benefit in the long run when it comes to the potential use of ram lambs in your operation.

This NebGuide explains how ram lambs can be most efficiently used in a breeding program and provides management suggestions for a successful program.

Are you planning to use a ram lamb this breeding season? If so, you should consider the capabilities and limitations of ram lambs.

It may be true that some well-grown, aggressive, vigorous, highly fertile ram lambs can settle 50 ewes and maybe more. However, these rams are exceptions. A good rule to follow for practical ram management is Continue reading

Preparing Rams for a Successful Breeding Season

Richard Ehrhardt, Michigan State University Extension Specialist, Small Ruminants
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat)

Although breeding season for many is several months away, its sheep sale season across the nation and producers are on the hunt for their next stud ram. Once acquired, rams should be tested and stowed away for safe keeping until its their time to shine. In general, spermatogenesis (the production of viable sperm) can take up to 12 weeks to regenerate if rams experience health complications or heat stress. Therefore, talking about the 2022 breeding season now is timely and a read that is worthwhile.

Introduction
Ensuring the health and reproductive viability of rams on your farm is critical to a successful breeding program. Because one ram can service 50+ ewes during an optimal breeding season, there is a lot more risk for flock reproductive problems associated with his fertility compared to those of individual ewes. One unsuccessful season can have a huge impact at lambing time and beyond. This risk can be minimized by following some fairly simple and straightforward steps.

Ram physical examination
Producers should become familiar with performing simple breeding exams on rams several weeks prior to the breeding season. This involves Continue reading

Improving Reproduction in Sheep

With lambing season on the forefront of every shepherds mind, I think that it is timely to have some discussion revolving around the reproductive efficiency of our flocks. Nationally, the average lambing rate is slightly over 100%. For those operating small flocks, we both know that those types of numbers won’t cut it. So, what can we do as managers and producers to improve the reproductive efficiency of our flocks? Supported by the Let’s Grow Program sponsored by the American Sheep Industry, Dr. Paul Kenyon from Massey University discusses tools for producers to use to improve the lambing season. In this video, Dr. Kenyon reviews topics such as nutrition management, ewe and ram care, weight and condition score targets that should be met, and much more. I know you have time this winter while observing your flock anxiously awaiting the next set of lambs. Put your earbuds in to have a quick lesson while you keep shepherding away.

Are You Ready for Birthing Season?

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, College of Veterinary Medicine
(Previously published online with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, College of Veterinary Medicine: January 2, 2019)

You’ve worked hard to get your livestock bred and maintain a normal production cycle. It’s almost time for that amazing event: giving birth (or, in veterinary terminology, “parturition”).

It’s understandable to be a little nervous about birthing season. After all, a year’s worth of work is at risk.

The good news is that the process works as it was intended to about 90% – 95% of the time.

Remember the ’30 minute rule’: Cows should make significant progress towards delivery every 30 minutes. Sheep and goats should deliver within 30 minutes. Allow 30 minutes to correct a problem if the labor is not progressing normally. Call a veterinarian sooner rather than later if the problem cannot be corrected quickly!

For the 5% – 10% of animals that Continue reading

Optimizing Reproductive Efficiency in Sheep Production with Strategic Nutritional Management

This hour long webinar seems to be quite timely both due to the fact that fall breeding is well under way across the nation as well as many here in the Midwest are fully emerged in fall lambing. Nutrition is key when discussing the benefits and hardships of livestock production. For those that will be joining us for Ohio Sheep Day this Saturday, October 2, I encourage you to take some time to listen to Dr. Richard Ehrhardt as he discusses how to maximize nutritional management to improve reproductive efficiency. At Ohio Sheep Day, we will be discussing alternative forage and feeding options that can be implemented on farm to achieve these needs. We look forward to seeing you then!

That Time of Year Again

Haley Zynda, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County

(Image Source: Michigan State University Extension)

As the days get shorter and the nights cooler, many shepherds are thinking about the upcoming breeding season. That is, if they haven’t already let their rams introduce themselves to the ladies. Breeding season is the exciting precursor and indicator of what kind of lamb crop you will have come spring. To ensure a successful lamb crop, there are a few things to consider and potentially remedy prior to letting the rams in with the ewes.

Rams
Just as bulls have breeding soundness exams (BSE), rams can go through a similar process to identify which rams should or should not be used. The Merck Veterinary Manual published a list of characteristics that need to be evaluated, the first of which is Continue reading

Small Ruminant AI Day in Licking County (August 21, 2021)

Dean Kreager, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Licking County

(Image Source: K Bar K Farm)

Artificial Insemination (AI) results from a multi-breeder insemination day in Licking County.

The Licking County Sheep Improvement Association has been working with OSU Extension to provide the opportunity for multiple breeders to bring sheep to one location for artificial insemination. The August 2020 date marked the 3rd year of this event. Insemination of 104 sheep occurred during the 2020 event and included both fresh and frozen semen.

Below, breeding results from the 2020 event include the use of 20 different rams among 10 different producers. Continue reading

Crossbreeding for Profit

Susan Schoenian, Sheep & Goat Specialist, University of Maryland Small Ruminant Extension Program
(Previously published on the Maryland Small Ruminant Page)

With breeding animal sale season upon us, now is the time to consider and finalize your plans for the 2021 breeding season. Acquiring breeding rams and bucks prior to use and need is critical as this time period allows for producers to both quarantine and acclimate newly purchased stock to their operations. For those with commercial based flocks and herds, crossbreeding may be your ticket to achieving greater growth efficiencies and price premiums.

Crossbreeding is probably the most misunderstood and underappreciated practice in commercial livestock production. Crossbreeding is the mating of males and females of different breeds or breed types. Purebreeding is the mating of individuals of the same breed or type. Crossbreeding is the recommended breeding strategy for commercial meat sheep and meat goat production.

As a breeding practice, crossbreeding does not Continue reading