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Author Topic: Rams  (Read 1784 times)

patrickr

  • Joined Apr 2022
Rams
« on: April 25, 2023, 01:08:58 pm »

HI All

Just coming to end of lambing (Shetland Ewes with a Shetland Tup) and we've got about an equal share of ewe and ram lambs.  We're first timers (and so were the ewes!) so a fair share of excitement all round!  So far we've been wethering the rams; mainly because that seems the simplest option.  The conundrum is: we'd like a nice ram for the next season's lambing.  So our dilemma:

1) keep rams.  Might be too late now!  The question here is: what do you look for and how do you see it in a lamb that is less than 7 days old?!?  Then there's needing an area to keep him/them outside tupping time + keeping him away from the mother during breeding / avoiding inbreeding?  Or is inbreeding to be avoided? 
2) borrow a ram - which we did this year
3) buy a ram.  But again, we haven't much of a clue on what do you look for in a ram; conformity etc.

Any advice on these options, gratefully received.  Or any links to any resources on breeding, online, books etc.

Thank you!



Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Rams
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2023, 01:21:04 pm »
Are you a member of the Shetland Sheep Society?  There's endless info about Ram selection there.


Basically you can't decide if a lamb will turn out to be a good breeding flock sire when he's only a few days old, or even a few months old.  You can see that he has promise, but that's not quite the same thing.
When we kept Shetlands, we just castrated all our male lambs and bought in tups from well known flocks.  There are all sorts of criteria to look at when choosing a tup such as conformation, lineage, mouth, amazing fleece, testicles, strong back, good feet, majestic stance etc etc.  As beginners you have no hope of deciding if your own lambs are suitable.  Add in that any one you choose will be related at least to his mother but also to all the other lambs if you used one tup, then you are far better to buy in a tup for next breeding season.  In the meantime, go to every show with Shetlands there that you can, watch which do well and try to work out why, for yourself, then start speaking to those showing.  Shetland sheep owners are always desperate to point out their own animal's good points so you will learn plenty.  Expect it to take a few years before you can pick out the Champion before the judging  8)
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

patrickr

  • Joined Apr 2022
Re: Rams
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2023, 04:39:06 pm »
Are you a member of the Shetland Sheep Society?  There's endless info about Ram selection there.


Basically you can't decide if a lamb will turn out to be a good breeding flock sire when he's only a few days old, or even a few months old.  You can see that he has promise, but that's not quite the same thing.
When we kept Shetlands, we just castrated all our male lambs and bought in tups from well known flocks.  There are all sorts of criteria to look at when choosing a tup such as conformation, lineage, mouth, amazing fleece, testicles, strong back, good feet, majestic stance etc etc.  As beginners you have no hope of deciding if your own lambs are suitable.  Add in that any one you choose will be related at least to his mother but also to all the other lambs if you used one tup, then you are far better to buy in a tup for next breeding season.  In the meantime, go to every show with Shetlands there that you can, watch which do well and try to work out why, for yourself, then start speaking to those showing.  Shetland sheep owners are always desperate to point out their own animal's good points so you will learn plenty.  Expect it to take a few years before you can pick out the Champion before the judging  8)

Hi

Yes, we're joining the Shetland Breed Society as we speak!  And, as you say, they have lots of useful info on the website.  We'll start reading through.  We definitely need to get to know the breed better.  Thank you for your advice.  All makes alot of sense.  We'll start by buying in a ram.  Maybe after a few years of learning we might raise a ram or two and sell them as breeding rams.  Thanks again. 

Shropshirelass

  • Joined Jul 2012
  • South Shropshire
  • A country lass who loves it all!
Re: Rams
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2023, 07:38:37 am »
Firstly look at & assess you're set up, as like you've said rams will need to be kept separate out of the breeding season but sheep are a flock animal so need company, this can be done with going with wether or tup lambs or other tups, but tups will sometimes fight when introduced to others. Also how many ewes do you have? As the average breeding tup is on average expected to cover 25-75 breeding ewes, In some breeds more that's why in a group of 150 ewes we can have just 3 males. If you've only got 4-5 ewes there's no point in having 1 on site as they tend to get bored & aggressive - so will wander off to sometimes find others.

In pedigree registered lambs we'll just be leaving them entire, sometimes you get some really nice chunky lambs which you think they'll turn out nice & they just don't make the grade, & its about assessing development at different stages for example a ram lamb will look completely different to a 2 year old & again that to a mature ram of say 3-4 years old in its prime, this is easier to see in the more larger commercial breeds, for example in the pic below my Great uncle Tom Francis on the left with the breed winner is handling a mature tup, the others are yearlings or ram lambs, but you can see the difference in size & definition & the differences in the individual lines which they tend to follow. But time & careful selection of you're breeding stock will help you achieve what you want in you're lines.

It's like for example we needed a new bull years ago & we new a breeder who had 3 charolais to look at, 1 was too big & 1 was too small, but we knew what our cows were like. Always remember a ram or a bull is 50% of you're breeding stock so choose wisely.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Rams
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2023, 12:24:46 am »
Shropshirelass's post shows just what you are up against in attempting to produce top quality breeding stock. You have to compete at the highest level, make a NAME for yourself by winning at many, many shows and you must start with top quality stock.  You also have to believe totally in what you're doing to have a chance of success.  There is a huge amount of competition amongst Shetland Sheep Breeders and whilst many are helpful and supportive, some breeders are there only to win and damn the rest.


We raise breeding stock but we do it with a very minority breed (Ancient Type Hebrideans, mostly multihorned) but that phantom perfect example of the breed is darned elusive  :innocent:
« Last Edit: June 18, 2023, 01:54:00 am by Fleecewife »
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

Shropshirelass

  • Joined Jul 2012
  • South Shropshire
  • A country lass who loves it all!
Re: Rams
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2023, 09:40:09 am »
Exactly Fleecewife, people have to remember that most people on here do it as a hobby & self sufficiency but farmers do it for a business & if youíve got a good breeding plan in place, & can sell youíre ewes at £300-£400 a piece & tups at over £1000-£2000 as opposed to £140-£170 current far lamb prices then itís a no brainier. But itís rare to get stock sold at that price. But a friend of mine breeds Blue Texels & last year her females were averaging £700-1200.

 

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