We are now approximately 10 weeks pre-tupping, so it is time to check the tups you plan to use for breeding. A pre-breeding exam can rule out common problems and may indicate the need for collecting and testing semen to confirm fertility. Examining them now allows time for replacements to be purchased and acclimatised to your farm conditions.
Reasons for pre-breeding examinations:
- Eliminate subfertile tups – up to 30% tups are subfertile!
- Fewer returns to service
- More compact lambing
What are we looking for?
- A body condition score between 3.5 and 4.0
- Whilst working, tups can lose up to 15% of their body weight
- Start supplementing the ram’s diet with a high-quality protein 10 weeks before tupping
- Generally fit and healthy
- Check teeth – ensure can eat well and maintain condition
- Check for wounds/injuries – inflammation affects semen quality
- Check feet and legs – identify an issues or lameness and treat accordingly
- Check brisket for sores
- Be reproductively sound with large firm testicles
- Semen production takes about 60 days meaning injury or illness 2 months before tupping can affect semen quality!
- Feel – grasp the top of the scrotum and gently push testicles downwards. They should slide freely and have no lumps, and be symmetrical.
- Size – the circumference around widest part of the testicles. We are looking for:
- over 34cm in tup lambs
- over 36cm in mature rams
If you identify any issues or have any questions, chat to your vet. A semen sample can then be collected if necessary.
For more information – please see http://dendi.xlvets.co.uk/sites/default/files/factsheet-files/breeding-ram.pdf
Hannah Rainey BVM&S MRCVS