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Ram Management

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  1. Ram Management November 21, 2003 Jeff Held, SDSU

  2. Mature ewes (180 lb) exposed to terminal sires

  3. Ram Facts • Use 35 to 120 days • Store 8 to 11 months • Often inadequate holding facilities • Water and feed feeding resources below average • Productive life span short

  4. Common Ram Observations • Greatly underfed/overfed • Structural/reproductive unsoundness • Ram lambs turned out to grass for extended periods • Lack of planning to house and manage rams post-breeding

  5. Facilities Designed for Rams Ease of handling and feeding Reduce injury among rams (humans) Manage aged rams separate from ram lambs

  6. Desired Ram Outcomes • Utilize superior genetic merits to improve economic performance – growth, wool milk or phenotypic traits • With excellent fertility (conc and motility) we expect rams to settle ewes in 2 heat periods • < 12 months….20 ewes • > 12 months….40 ewes

  7. Breeding Season • Pre-breeding • Select rams with superior merits and soundness • Free from footrot • Deworm, shear • Above ave body condition • Reproductive soundness exam • Post-breeding • Protect your investment for genetic improvement • Nutrition and Health

  8. Nutritional Management • Ram lambs should be at least 6 months old and be at least 60% of mature wt • Expect some weight loss during the breeding season for all ages (10-20%) • Supplemental feeding or rest periods can limit weight loss (improve conception rate) • Feeding management pre-breeding is most important critical!

  9. Pre-breeding Nutrition • Ram Lambs 3.0% of BWT • 4.5 lbs of TDN / 0.60 lb Crude Protein • 5 lbs forage / 2 lbs grain (65% TDN ration) • Moderate growth rate (60-80% of max) • Mature Rams 2.5% of BWT • 4.0 lb of TDN/ 0.50 lb Crude Protein • 6.5 lbs forage / 1.5 grain (55% TDN ration) • Increase body condition (fat cover)

  10. Nutritional Observations • High levels of grain offered • All ages fed together • Mineral mixtures for ewes also offered to rams

  11. Nutritional Disorders (Health) • When more than 25 % grain offered for long periods • Reduces fiber digestion (10-15%) • Increased risk of off-feed conditions (acidosis) • Negative impact on rumen function • Increased risk of water belly (Ca:P ratio)

  12. Protein Requirement • Generally less than 0.75 lb per day • Decreases with maturity 0.50 lb per day • Most rations will meet the protein requirement for older ram lambs and mature rams • Sheath rot often associated with high protein rations

  13. Minerals and Vitamins • Zinc, Selenium and Vitamin E could be associated with improving fertility in male animals • A good commercial sheep trace mineral salt will satisfy the requirement for rams • Sheep salt mineral mixtures for sheep are designed for ewes, not rams • Commercial grower or finisher pellets are reasonable method to deliver minerals and vitamins for rams

  14. Summary • Select sound rams with longevity traits • Take care of the management and nutrition (health) tasks to increase the years of service and annual conception rates • Facilities planned for housing rams can reduce injury (animal and human) and increase observation opportunities