Ten to eight weeks out from mating is the ideal time for rams to be brought in for an annual health check and for shearing or crutching; particularly ensuring wool is removed from around the testes.
Testes must remain cool to help maximise sperm production and survival.
Speaking on the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Mating Management learning module, Farm Systems Scientist Tom Fraser says sperm production begins two months before mating, so rams should be checked for Brucellosis, which can go undetected, and other abnormalities such as epididymitis, missing or deformed testes, pizzle rot and scrotal mange.
They should also be checked for trace element deficiencies such as selenium deficiency, for example, can cause sperm defects.
Foot abscesses in the lead up to mating can cause elevated temperatures and cause infertility for up to two months.
As with ewes, the rams should be given high quality feed in the lead up to mating and go to the ewes at a BCS of 3-4.
Recommended ram ratios are 1: 150 for mixed-age ewes and rams and 100:1 for hoggets.
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