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Author Topic: Keeping a ram  (Read 431 times)

tommytink

  • Joined Aug 2018
Keeping a ram
« on: August 23, 2019, 09:35:05 pm »
Just a quick question about having a ram.
Do they need company (a wether?) and do they need a field of their own?
I am sure I read somewhere someone said their ram stays with the ewes all year?
Someone I know has two rams in together. I thought they’d fight?
We are getting a hire ram for our Badgers (part of the deal when we purchased) but need one for our Hill Radnors. We thought about trying to find one to a hire as we want to keep some ewes ( :fc: ) but then realised we could keep him for at least two years anyway so might as well just buy one.
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twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Keeping a ram
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2019, 09:50:06 pm »
Yes they need company. A ram kept on its own will not be a happy chap. My 2 rams live together all year in their own field, apart from the 6-8 weeks they are out with their respective ewes (they each have their own groups of ewes in separate fields). When they come back together after tupping we reintroduce them in the shed in a confined space, very slowly as they will fight. After 7-10’days they are bored of each other and go out to the field together. The same is done after shearing as once shorn they smell different so have to get reacquainted. Most of the time in the field they get on fine, leading up to tupping they get a bit firey but nothing too bad.


I wouldn’t keep a ram in with the ewes all year round. Your lambing will be drawn out very long, rams cannot eat the same nuts as ewes so feeding at lambing would be very difficult. Also you want your ewes tame but the rams must have a healthy respect for you (and vice versa).

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Keeping a ram
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2019, 10:04:51 pm »
It depends on the breed.  We keep several entire males together - they organise themselves into a pecking order, with a boss who keeps the peace.  It tends to go by age to some extent, with lambs added at weaning being bottom of the heap.  It is very peaceful for most of the year, but they do get a bit het up and pushy approaching tupping time.
Unlike twizzel, we put our tups back in together in a oner.  We put out some feed, then let them get on with it.  They sometimes fight a bit and chase each other round, but they soon get fed up and prefer to lounge around discussing what they have been up to for the past few weeks.


We don't keep tups with ewes through the year because they cause disruption, bash the fencing and can be very rough with birthing ewes and new lambs.  Also we keep our ewe lambs in with the flock and let the ewes wean them at their leisure.  They stay with the old non-breeding biddies during tupping, then go back with the whole flock, minus tups, running together through lambing. This gives the new ewe lambs the chance to witness birthing before they lamb themselves, and keeps family groups together.   Other people keep their tup in with their ewes all year round.  Presumably they are not bothered when they lamb.


Yes, a tup needs a companion - another tup or a wether will be fine, but the wether will need to go in with the ewes at tupping time too for company.
We don't lend out or hire tups in for biosecurity reasons (ie bringing pests and diseases onto our land)  and the safety of the animal.  There are other breeders who are happy to do so.


If you buy in your own tup then, as you say you can use him for two years, or for as long as he lives on those same ewes.  Any daughters will require a different tup.  We have managed with between 2 and 4 tups on the go at any time.  We divide our ewes into bloodline groups, and put them with appropriate unrelated tups.  This means that you can continue to breed from a particular pairing if they produce good lambs.  It is also very good for the biodiversity of your flock.  This is only relevant of you are breeding breeding stock.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2019, 10:08:01 pm by Fleecewife »
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twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Keeping a ram
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2019, 08:20:46 am »
I made the mistake of turning my tups out a few hours after shearing (they were hungry, had fresh grass to go out onto and had been quiet in the shed for the afternoon together). Within 5 minutes one had taken a long run up and pelted the other into the electric fence  :rant: so they went back into the shed for a week to sort out their differences in there where they can’t get any distance to run. Turned them back out after a week and they were fine.


The one thing I would say is don’t make your rams too friendly. Don’t feed them regularly. Give them a handful of lamb finisher nuts every now and then so they will follow a bucket but keep interaction to a minimum. I used raddle paste on one of my rams last year which needed him to come up every few days to some feed so I could put fresh paste on. He can be a bit pushy now with cake although after the summer he is better. This year I’ve got him a harness so interaction at tupping is limited.


With the ram you hire make sure you give him a quarantine wormer the day before turning him out with your ewes at the very minimum. You don’t want him bringing resistant worms onto your farm.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2019, 08:22:35 am by twizzel »

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Keeping a ram
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2019, 11:15:22 am »
Keeping a tup with the flock year round can work, but unless you breed all your ewe lambs as hoggs, you do need to be able to separate ewe lambs off at tupping time.

It doesn’t necessarily mean a very protracted lambing.  I kept a Shetland tup with my mixed flock and lambing lasted four weeks on average, pretty much never longer than five weeks.  Shetlands and other primitives, in my experience of doing this in the north of England, don’t come cycling until late October, and a healthy flock with a healthy tup should give you 95% of your lambings in the first cycle (so lambing over three weeks or less) with the stragglers usually within a week to ten days of that.  And, again in my own experience, left to their own devices a ewe often lambs on the same day she was born, and on that same day year after year, so if you only retain those born and lambing in the 95%, your lambings will tighten up year on year.

Some tups can be a nuisance with lambs, but many aren’t - quite the reverse, some become guardians of the flock and are gentle with the lambs; we named one such Dutch Texel “Big Daddy” because of how lovely he was with the lambs.  My experience is that giddy ewe hoggs cause far more upset at lambing time!  I lost a pregnant ewe because of it once, so I don’t now run my hoggs with the lambers until lambing itself has finished and all lambs are at least a week old.  The hoggs still get to see young lambs but aren’t around to cause angst when the mums are actually lambing or in the first few days when the mums are super-protective.

And I’d probably keep a new tup in the field next door from about one month out and until the youngest lambs are a week old for the first time he’s present during lambing.

As to keeping a tup with wethers for company, it doesn’t always work.  Chad had been used to staying with the flock year round, and when we separated him after tupping the first year here in Cornwall, even though he knew his 4 companion wethers really well, he simply couldn’t settle.  We’d expected to keep him a while to put condition back on (that was his third year tupping and there would be daughters entering the flock the following year), but he was so unhappy we just sent him off.  We had him minced in case he was still tuppy, but in fact the meat was some of the best we’d ever eaten! 

My other comment is, if you’re going to keep a tup and keep him separate apart from tupping time, then if you’ve got the paddock to do it, keep two or three wethers for companions, not just one, then they’re still a group while the tup is working.  And if you can and his happiness matters to you, don’t make it always wether lambs he has for company - let him have a pal or two that stay on year on year, so he has adult company. 

(Yes, you could say our sheep are spoiled  ::). We prefer to say that their welfare - physical and emotional - is paramount to us. ;). )
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

bj_cardiff

  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: Keeping a ram
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2019, 05:18:41 pm »
I would say it is much easier to keep a ram all year round than hire a suitable (good) ram when you need one, also you don't know what your introducing to your flock either bringing in a new ram for a short space of time..

I have kept a single ram before (not on his own).. I would keep him with your ram lambs when he arrives, presumably you have separated them from the ewes. I would then put them in with the ewes for tupping and leave them together until the following summer when you wean the lambs. Then when you split the ewe lambs and ram lambs, keep the ram with the ram lambs till he's needed for tupping.

Its possible that you may have a ewe loose a lamb and come back into season in the early spring, but its never happened to me.

tommytink

  • Joined Aug 2018
Re: Keeping a ram
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2019, 09:34:38 pm »
Thanks all. So he will definitely need a friend! I don’t currently have any ram lambs to put in with him as this will be our first time. I was always thinking about a wether and that they’d stay together but then ram lambs could go with them at weaning time?

I think I have enough field space to accommodate, and I also have an indoor shed area that previous owners said they used for their ram. If I had two rams, when you say you leave them in the shed for a few days, is this literal? I mean, it seems quite a small area? Ours is prob approx 9x9 ft.

And next time round, which is a while away, keep ewe hoggs separate? What can they do that causes problems with the pregnant ewes? Although Fleecewife you keep yours in?

I think I’ll definitely buy as opposed to hire. Makes more sense. Now just to find one! There’s a show and sale in Sept but a little far away for me. Will try though!

On a side note, I will rams try and get to every ewe they can? Obviously I have the two breeds which I’ll separate in non-adjoining fields. However I also have two Badgers that aren’t going to the tup. If they were in an adjoining field would he try and get to them?

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Keeping a ram
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2019, 08:34:42 am »
My rams are on the other side of the farm to the ewes, they are pretty well behaved but I wouldn’t keep them in a field next door. They are always behind electric.


Yes when you reintroduce them they need to be penned tight. Mine start off in a 6x4 hurdle pen and gradually it gets moved a bit bigger each day. They need to smell the same to accept each other and basically get bored of each others company.


Rams are boisterous, they will push around for food and could knock pregnant ewes about. The biggest concern id have keeping them in with ewes at lambing is the fact they cannot eat ewe nuts- which most ewes need pre and post lambing.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Keeping a ram
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2019, 09:55:26 am »
The biggest concern id have keeping them in with ewes at lambing is the fact they cannot eat ewe nuts- which most ewes need pre and post lambing.

 :idea:  tommytink has Hill Radnors and Welsh Badger-faceds.  The probably do fine on a 16% protein feed, so could be fed a cake that’s suitable for boys too ;)
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

tommytink

  • Joined Aug 2018
Re: Keeping a ram
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2019, 10:14:48 pm »
Is 16% protein feed what you give to lambs (and what rams can eat as well)? What is in the ewe nuts that is bad for rams?

Also, Twizzel has mentioned about electric fencing. Does this really work on sheep? Is it the netting type? I have tape around my pigs. We put some  sheep in the same field so put some temporary stock fence around the electric. Of course one decided to stick her head through the fence and leant forward sniffing into the tape. I heard it snap, and she moved back and kind of froze, like she didn’t know what happened, then moved away. When the pigs get hit they squeal like hell and run back in their arc!! They prob weigh the same, or not far off. Does the hair dull the current? I can feel it fairly strongly through a thick blade of grass, let alone touch it with bare hands!

pharnorth

  • Joined Nov 2013
  • Cambridgeshire
Re: Keeping a ra
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2019, 11:45:41 pm »
It is more a case of what is not in ewe nuts; there is a tendency to produce calci stones so ammonium chloride is usually in as a trace component for wether and rams.

I use 3 strand wire for my sheep effectively. The wire can be tensioned and has least resistance so holds current better than polywire. Netting is ok for brief periods but tedious to keep the grass from growing up and shorting it. I have pigs behind tape too but would not use it for sheep. They seem to respond best to something with a bit of tension in it and if in full fleece can lean into the tape as you found.

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Keeping a ram
« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2019, 08:14:02 am »
3 strands of poly wire and a decent fencer do the trick for me :thumbsup:

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Keeping a ram
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2019, 09:28:20 pm »
Is 16% protein feed what you give to lambs (and what rams can eat as well)? What is in the ewe nuts that is bad for rams?

You can’t assume that a 16% feed is ok for rams but most 18% feeds are ewe feeds and are not safe for rams and wethers. 

Most companies make an “all stock” 16% pasture mix which is ok for rams and wethers.  If it doesn’t say on the bag you’ll need to ask the store or rep. 
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

 

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