As breeding season approaches for most flocks across the country making plans for this important season is often overlooked. Aside from the essential first step of making sure you have enough “ram power”, there are a series of other management procedures and techniques that can be used to ensure the season is a success.
- Vaccinate and deworm your flock. Deworming is a wise management decision especially if you pull them off pasture to begin flushing them to achieve optimal condition scores (not too fat and not too thin). Make sure vaccinations are up to date, consult your veterinarian for specific details.
- Use a ram ejaculator to acquire samples to test your rams semen levels and motility. This will ensure that they are capable of breeding the quantity that you require.
- A marking harness can tell you more than if a ram has bred a ewe. It can tell you when she was bred, which ram bred her, and whether or not a ram is doing his job. How? By switching crayon color throughout the season and using different colors for different rams.
By switching colors throughout the season you will be better able to gauge when a ewe should lamb by looking at the color on her back. If you used red during the first 2 weeks of breeding and blue the second 2 weeks and the ewe is marked blue, then she should lamb later in the season. If you use different colors for different rams you will be able to tell which ewe was bred to which ram. If a ram is outfitted with his own color but his color is not evident on any of the ewes, then he is not doing his job. Since these marks do not last forever, be sure to write down when you notice a ewe has been marked. Add 147 days and this should roughly tell you when she should have her lambs. Also write down when you used a specific crayon and which ram it was on. Remember, documentation is important and can save you a few headaches down the stretch.
View a quick video on replacing crayons on a ram marking harness.
Download a PDF on how to install a marking crayon to your harness.
Hopefully these tips will give you a jump-start on your planning. Good luck on the upcoming breeding season.