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Preparing rams for the mating season

Getting your rams checked out to ensure that they are in top shape for tupping is a financially prudent decision compared to the costs involved if the rams don’t work!

Sperm production in the ram takes eight weeks therefore all sperm present at mating have developed prior to the mating period. Fever or stress (from any cause) can reduce sperm quality and/or quantity. For this reason, rams body condition should be assessed, they should be checked for health problems and, if required, treated at least ten weeks prior to mating. Wounds, flystrike, genital health problems and foot problems are all common troubles. Other problems to look out for:

  • Footrot (and/or other causes of lameness) can reduce feed intake and hence sperm production.
  • Scrotal (chorioptic) mange can cause infertility by raising testicular temperatures due to skin thickening.
  • For those farming in facial eczema prone areas, don’t overlook the task of providing protection for your rams.  Time Capsule® or Face-Guard™ boluses are a convenient way to do this.
  • Having a faecal egg count done and wormed if necessary.


Brucella ovis is a disease that may also be identified when palpating rams and we still see outbreaks occurring in our region. Traditionally rams have always been checked just prior to mating but the problem with this is that, if an issue is identified, there is often insufficient time to test and cull rams and ensure a Brucella ovis free flock prior to mating. The disease can then spread like wildfire during tupping, which can have dramatic effects on scanning percentages causing an increase in dry/dry ewes and a resultant protracted lambing season. The important things to remember are:

  • Always purchase rams from a Brucella ovis free source.
  • Avoid sharing or borrowing rams.
  • The disease is not carried from season to season in the ewe flock, it is a venereal disease spread by rams.
  • There is no treatment, so prevention is key.

Finally, if you plan to use teasers, ensure they are vasectomised at least six weeks, prior to tupping to prevent any unwanted pregnancies.

Plan and book in your rams to be checked in adequate time prior to mating – it’s a wise investment and an excellent starting point to help ensure a successful mating.