Economic benefits of good ram management

Good ram management doesn't have to be costly or labour intensive. A ram with high conception and lambing rates can have a healthy impact on your profits.

Examples of ram management

The following 2 examples compare the ram costs per lamb conceived over the reproductive life of the ram. The example given in Flock A looks at the ram cost component of conceiving a lamb under what might be considered a 'high quality' management program. Flock B looks at what might be expected from a 'poor quality' management program.

Flock A:

  • 1 ram x 40 ewes x 95% conception x 5 years = 190 lambs
  • Rams at $450 each + $50 annual costs (over 5yrs) = $700
  • Ram cost/lamb conceived =$3.68

Flock B:

  • 1 ram x 40 ewes x 75% conception x 7 years = 210 lambs
  • Rams at $450 each + $10 annual costs (over 7yrs) = $520
  • Ram cost/lamb conceived = $2.48

Although this is a simplified example, it illustrates that when looked at purely on a cost-per-lamb-conceived basis there is in fact a considerable advantage in favour of Flock B. But when looked at from the point of view of potential income from those lambs, it is a very different story.

Although Flock B conceives 20 more lambs per ram over their lifetime, it takes 2 years longer to do it. In other words, Flock A is conceiving 38 lambs per 40 ewes per year while Flock B is only conceiving 30 lambs from the same number of ewes. This is a difference of 1000 potential lambs/year from a 5000 ewe breeding flock, which, at an average weaning rate of 75%, equates to an additional 750 lambs reared/year.

The equivalent cash value of these lambs will fluctuate from year to year and they will in fact be worth more to some sheep breeders than others at any given time. But no matter what value is put on them, it will be significantly more than the extra $1.16/head that it cost in ram management to produce them.

Poor conception rates will also have detrimental effects on subsequent lambing percentages, leading to further income losses because of an inability to improve flock production through selection and culling for performance. You will also miss out on income from the sale of surplus animals.

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