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.
- Use the ram check list on the Making More from Sheep website to help determine breeding ability.
- Learn how to improve sheep flocks through genetics.
- Find out how to manage ewes for successful sheep breeding.
- Learn now to join rams and ewes for successful sheep breeding.
- Find out about sheep health and disease prevention.