Maximising ram fertility through nutrition

The health and wellbeing of your rams will directly affect their fertility, so you must make sure they are well nourished (but not over-fed), and generally healthy.

Trimming horns, hooves and shearing are also important in keeping sheep healthy.

Nutrition and fertility of rams

Nutrition has a direct and dramatic effect on testicle size and sperm production. Improving nutritional intake of protein and energy during the 2-month period before joining can increase, and sometimes double, sperm production.

You should aim to have rams at a condition score of 3.5 at joining. Don't allow rams to become overweight, with a condition score of more than 4. Overweight rams tend to be less sexually active and are more prone to heat stress.

Vitamins and sperm production in rams

Vitamin A is important to sperm production, so you should ensure your rams have access to green feed. Rams deficient in vitamin A have soft testicles and produce poor quality sperm. Where rams have gone for 6 months or more without access to any green feed, supplements containing vitamin A may be needed (e.g. green hay or vitamin concentrate).

Mature sheep have sufficient stores of vitamin A to survive for 8-12 months without green feed and without showing signs of vitamin A deficiency.

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