The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Livestock => Sheep => Topic started by: Whitehills on September 12, 2015, 08:44:25 am

Title: Getting a tup for ewes
Post by: Whitehills on September 12, 2015, 08:44:25 am
Hello, first time sheep keeper here so finding my feet!

I've 6 texel x and 1 Suffolk and I'm looking to put a tup in with them mid November to hopefully get lambs mid April onwards.

What is the best way to get a tup and I presume I'd be best to stick with a texel or texel x? Is someone likely to hire one to me for just 7 girls or will I have to buy one and potentially sell it again? It's my intention to fatten the lambs for market but I may keep a few this year so I've got a few 'homebred' girls on the farm (not that I'm being soft!) hence if I bought a tup I'd have to sell it so no inbreeding.

I'm just north of Aberdeen so if anyone knew of someone with a tup that would be super.

Thank you in advance for your help!
Title: Re: Getting a tup for ewes
Post by: SallyintNorth on September 12, 2015, 09:25:59 pm
Best bet would be to buy a tup lamb, use him and sell him (or eat him yourselves.)
Title: Re: Getting a tup for ewes
Post by: princesslayer on September 12, 2015, 10:53:33 pm
  :wave:
I'm a beginner, I hired a tup for my four Jacobs last autumn, which worked for us. Upsides are he's only 10 minutes away and he's only with us 8 weeks. Downsides are biosecurity, he may bring on worms/disease and he's not ours to do as we like with re worming, that has to be negotiated.

Title: Re: Getting a tup for ewes
Post by: Rosemary on September 13, 2015, 08:38:35 am
Are your ewes first timer lambers? Are you a first time lamber? If the answer to both questions is yes, you might want to look at an easier lambing tup. Now, I've never had pure Texels so I'm not speaking from personal experience but they have a reputation for not being the easiest lambers - and if you're a novice and they are novices, something else might be better.

You'd still be able to sell them as Texel x and hey'd still have a good carcase for the commercial market.

Just a thought. Others with more experience might comment.

Title: Re: Getting a tup for ewes
Post by: babysham on September 13, 2015, 08:50:31 am
Last year I bought a tup lamb as didnt want to borrow a tup. I was going to sell him if he didnt perform or had any problems with lambings. He is brilliant!! Best 60 ever spent. He is a beautiful Suffolk and of course called FRED!!!
Title: Re: Getting a tup for ewes
Post by: Whitehills on September 13, 2015, 09:31:58 am
Thank you for taking the time to reply everyone. I'm a first timer but intending to delay lambing slightly so I can go on a course first plus hopefully give it time to warm up a little as we live in a wind tunnel!

The girls are experienced. I saw this years lambs and they were big but apparently needed no input from the previous owner.

I had thought the bio security might have been a bit of a worry bringing in a tup or indeed sending the girls 'off on their holidays'. Space isn't an issue here so buying might be the way to go. I was reading on previous posts that an older tup could be a good shout as you get a proven tup for meat value and I could sell him again for a similar price. Not sure if I'm best to stick with sheep that all know what they're doing this year rather than a first time tup given that I don't yet! I'm sure it wouldn't take him long to get the hang of it though although I read it can take them longer to cover the flock?

Grand plan is to increase the flock to 20 next year and produce happy fat lambs from happy mums and I can hopefully make a bit of money from them (if the price ever improves).
Title: Re: Getting a tup for ewes
Post by: Whitehills on September 13, 2015, 09:35:26 am
Ps. Loving 'Fred'. I'm sure once I've got my girls bucket trained I shall also be naming!
Title: Re: Getting a tup for ewes
Post by: Scotsdumpy on September 14, 2015, 08:28:58 am
Have a word with Joe Beedie from Beedie bros livestock hauliers. He often has tups/ram lambs at this time of year. He tends to have shetland or the smaller breeds. He might have some Jacobs - Ive seen them in his park not sure if they are male though..
Title: Re: Getting a tup for ewes
Post by: Remy on September 14, 2015, 07:15:52 pm
Not sure if I'm best to stick with sheep that all know what they're doing this year rather than a first time tup given that I don't yet! I'm sure it wouldn't take him long to get the hang of it though although I read it can take them longer to cover the flock?

Grand plan is to increase the flock to 20 next year and produce happy fat lambs from happy mums and I can hopefully make a bit of money from them (if the price ever improves).
It can work out well with a first time tup but it is a bit of a risk!  I had a registered Ryeland tup lamb that I put in with my ewes and he only got about 10 out of 25 in lamb.  The following year however, it was 100%.  I also got a young Meatlinc X tup lamb, absolutely fab specimen and put him in with some ewes - he got 100% of them in lamb on his first effort.  So a bit of hit and miss if you use an unproven tup, although I have to say I have used about four tup lambs on ewes and it was only the Ryeland who didn't do too well on his first attempt.


However I can afford to experiment and it's not a disaster for me if things don't go to plan, but when I started I was like you and didn't know much - I had four ewes and bought a young Ryeland tup and got some fantastic lambs without having to have much prior knowledge!
Title: Re: Getting a tup for ewes
Post by: Marches Farmer on September 15, 2015, 03:21:49 pm
It can work out well with a first time tup but it is a bit of a risk!  I had a registered Ryeland tup lamb that I put in with my ewes and he only got about 10 out of 25 in lamb.  The following year however, it was 100%.

Worth asking the actual date of birth of tup lambs.  Those born in February can probably cope with more than those born in April.  I don't recommend using a ram lamb on more than 10, especially if they're ewe lambs or tegs.
Title: Re: Getting a tup for ewes
Post by: Keepers on September 15, 2015, 03:45:39 pm
It can work out well with a first time tup but it is a bit of a risk!  I had a registered Ryeland tup lamb that I put in with my ewes and he only got about 10 out of 25 in lamb.  The following year however, it was 100%.

Worth asking the actual date of birth of tup lambs.  Those born in February can probably cope with more than those born in April. I don't recommend using a ram lamb on more than 10, especially if they're ewe lambs or tegs.

I think it would differ between breeds, cant really say that about all ram lambs, maybe its that number for Southdowns? the general known amount around my area is 1:25 for ram lambs however breeds with higher libido can cope with more and breeds with low libido less

Charmoise ram lambs are usually put from 25 or even up to 40 with good results, NZ suffolk ram lambs are recommended for up to 80, with many other breed ram lambs being able to tup around 50 pretty well

However yes I agree that it can be risky relying on just a ram lamb, often people will run a sweeper tup in after a ram lamb has been through a bunch to check if any have come back on heat

I used two ram lambs on their own in own groups last year and they did very well, one got all 30 of his in lamb and the other got all but two (one was a ewe lamb and one an older ewe) in lamb, however yes I took the risk that they may not have worked, but I raddled both and and the ewes were teasered so all were covered in the first two weeks, when I re-raddled the ewes were not re coloured so it was safe(ish) to assume all were tupped, I just had to cross my fingers that they were properly in lamb  :fc:

This year I am using two rams and two ram lambs, split into two groups, 1 ram going to 30 and the other ram plus ram lambs going to 110


Title: Re: Getting a tup for ewes
Post by: Me on September 15, 2015, 03:48:34 pm
Testicular size is the limiting factor to how much sperm the ram can produce in a given time, so a well developed ram lamb can serve ewes and serve again more reliably than one with smaller gonads. 
Title: Re: Getting a tup for ewes
Post by: Whitehills on September 15, 2015, 04:43:36 pm
This has turned into a really interesting discussion. Thank you to everyone taking time to post, I'm learning a lot!

I hope I've got this right but if I use a ram lamb on my 7 girls there's a much bigger risk of them not getting covered and if they do it's most likely going to be a longer lambing period. Given I don't really know any sheep farmers in my area (yet) the likelihood of getting a teaser ram in is slim to none to help synchronise the girls. I do however think I'll go down the route of buying rather than hiring.

I've been told by a few people that shetland x texel is a good cross. Given I've got texel x already (not entirely sure what they're crossed with but they still look very like texels) is it ok for the shetland to be the ram? (Sorry if that's a very rookie question). Personally I'd love to have blackface but have been told they're difficult to look after and contain. Is there much truth in that and would texel x blackie produce a good lamb?
Title: Re: Getting a tup for ewes
Post by: SallyintNorth on September 15, 2015, 05:19:17 pm
would texel x blackie produce a good lamb?

No, you'd be going backwards.  Texel cross x Blackie would look like Blackie x Texel and I'd say they would fetch less than Texel cross x Shetland, which would look like a slightly smaller/younger Texel cross.   (But I'm not in your area, so I could be wrong.)

On synchronising your girls for a tight lambing, one thing that works well if you have good fences, is to have the tup in the field next to the girls.  His pheromones get them cycling ;).  It's not helpful if you can't wait two-three weeks before putting him in, though.

Title: Re: Getting a tup for ewes
Post by: Whitehills on September 15, 2015, 07:35:02 pm
Thank you so much Sally. Yes I have a quarter of an acre next to the girls which will one day be my veggie patch so he can go in there. The fencing had better be good as I've just spent a small fortune having the whole farm done!

I feel like I now have a sort of plan and a little bit more knowledge. Thank you everyone for being kind to a newcomer!!
Title: Re: Getting a tup for ewes
Post by: Keepers on September 15, 2015, 07:57:57 pm
would texel x blackie produce a good lamb?

No, you'd be going backwards.  Texel cross x Blackie would look like Blackie x Texel and I'd say they would fetch less than Texel cross x Shetland, which would look like a slightly smaller/younger Texel cross.   (But I'm not in your area, so I could be wrong.)


Agree, my friend put a blackie tup onto his beltex cross ewes (no idea why) and the lambs look almost pure blackie, wheras a white shetland tup will produce white lambs that would sell well as stores even if they didnt make fat
Title: Re: Getting a tup for ewes
Post by: Marches Farmer on September 15, 2015, 08:16:07 pm

I think it would differ between breeds, cant really say that about all ram lambs, maybe its that number for Southdowns? the general known amount around my area is 1:25 for ram lambs however breeds with higher libido can cope with more and breeds with low libido less.

Generally accepted 1 ram lamb to 10 ewes for all breeds in these parts, although most folkshere  lamb between late March and late April.  If you're in an area where they start lambing in December then it's a different story.

Title: Re: Getting a tup for ewes
Post by: Keepers on September 15, 2015, 08:42:50 pm

Generally accepted 1 ram lamb to 10 ewes for all breeds in these parts, although most folkshere  lamb between late March and late April.  If you're in an area where they start lambing in December then it's a different story.

That is very low, I wonder the reasons why, I know of ram lambs going to more in harsh parts of scotland and wales, perhaps its to do more with the breeds used in the area, interesting  :thinking:

I lamb mid march to mid april, the ram lambs would be around 6 months old when used for tupping I guess, but yes if lambing early then a ram lamb would be too young to use, unless he was born early himself I suppose  :thinking:
But also depends on breed as to when he himself would be feeling randy enough
Title: Re: Getting a tup for ewes
Post by: SallyintNorth on September 15, 2015, 10:16:13 pm
The general practise hereabouts is up to 15 ewes for a ram lamb, preferably none of them first timers.  You certainly want him to have some experienced girls, not all first-timers, if he has that sort of number and you want a tight lambing.

And you wouldn't expect a ram lamb to work on the fell, you'd have him and his girls in-bye in a smallish enclosure.  You'd probably go in and bring the ewes around him twice a day, too.  And if you saw he was devoting himself to one girl only, and ignoring another that was interested in him, you might take the well-covered lady out ;)

And yes, you'd want him to be at least 6 months old, have well-developed testicles, and be at least 60% of his adult weight.

Having said all of which, I've twice used ram lambs on my fleece sheep and some commercials in meandering pastures, 25 acres in total, in 7 fields and pastures, mostly in a long line, and they've both covered everything well.  Even the first one, who had two distinct groups who didn't mix (and were often at the diametrically opposed ends of the 25 acres ::)), managed to get all the girls in both groups.

And on one occasion, BH put a 9 month old Charollais ram lamb in with a large (over 100) batch of ewes early in our season.  He left Fred with the big batch for about a week, then took off the marked ewes, and divided the remainder up, leaving Fred with about 30. 

People said he'd ruin the boy for future years, but he was fine.  He worked well for three years for us, and then had to go because we had too many of his retained daughters.
Title: Re: Getting a tup for ewes
Post by: princesslayer on September 16, 2015, 09:53:44 am
I'm starting to think I got extremely lucky - ram lamb in late October on four first time ewes, six lambs born within four days of each other starting 150 days after he went in! He was in for 8 weeks too. Will prob be a complete disaster this year just to bring me to my senses.