A working ram will not last forever. Culling for age and purchasing replacement rams each year means that a good balance of mixed aged rams is maintained.
A ram's best days are usually those up to 6 years of age. Older rams often suffer from reduced fertility and/or libido.
As most rams are purchased to be first joined at 12–18 months of age, you should ideally look to cull and replace them after a maximum of 4 years' use.
Studs will also be in a much better position to supply the quantity and type of ram needed if annual replacement numbers are relatively constant. If your stud is making genetic gain, the more rapidly that your ram flock is replaced the closer your flock will be in genetic merit to your stud.
Rams of all ages are prone to the development of testicular lesions and abnormalities and need to be examined for reproductive health at least once a year, with defective rams being culled.
You should physically examine (palpate) the testes of your rams before annual replacements are ordered so that those with abnormalities can be replaced. You should palpate well before joining, to allow replacements a minimum of 8 weeks after arrival to recover from any stress-related fertility problems arising from their handling, transport and relocation.
Check for general physical fitness, and cull rams with permanent disabilities (e.g. broken mouth).
You don't need to cull rams with temporary problems such as lameness and blindness. They can be put aside for use the following year, providing they are young enough and otherwise healthy enough.
- Last reviewed: 22 Nov 2022
- Last updated: 22 Nov 2022