NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: Keeping a ram  (Read 841 times)

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Keeping a ram
« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2019, 01:20:10 pm »

I agree you don't need a wether right now if the tup is about to go out, but if you plan on keeping him on for another year then you might want company for him once he's finished his work.

A wether costs a fraction of what a breeding sheep does to keep.  They eat less, they need far less meds - they do no work so are not stressing their system.

In terms of size, closer to the ram's size would be better, but not the end of the world if they're smaller.  It's not a bad idea to have two, in that they can keep each other company when the tup is working, and three is a better group than two.  (Although four or five is actually preferable.). But on the other hand, the two wethers are likely to have a better bond with each other than with the tup, so the tup might find a single wether is a better companion. :thinking:

Using a wether lamb or three each year is better than nothing, but it's better welfare for herd animals to have company of their own "age and stage", so an older sheep will be a better companion than a lamb.

If you have a crafter in the family, or know one, a Shetland wether could also provide you with lovely fleece for crafting.  As far as I have experience of them, you won't be getting any nice fleeces off the Hill Radnors :/.  (And Balwens are also among my list of least pleasant to spin.). But some of the Badgers' might be nice - I've had a few nice Torddu fleeces, although the Torwen's I've had have been less exciting. 
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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SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Keeping a ram
« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2019, 01:27:32 pm »
Oh, one other thing - just for safety's sake, if you have a polled tup, it's better to give him polled wethers for company.  It's more of a thing if keeping tups together, but just in case...
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 #17 on: September 17, 2019, 11:47:48 am »
Don’t all sheep cost the same to keep? I’m guessing there may be extra cost with ewes associated with lambing issues? But what about rams? They all eat grass. I don’t think one extra mouth would cost much more in any winter feed that might be needed. And he’d still need vaccs, wormer, fluke, fly strike treatment.
I remember you saying before Sally about having one that’s around the same age which makes sense. I don’t know what’ll happen to it when we have to swap the ram out though!!
Not sure when he’s going in. I need to sit down, research, and put a plan together. At the moment I’m waiting for FEC results on the girls. And I want to make sure his feet are improving as well. I read somewhere that hill breeds cycle later. Again, I’m learning this all as I go so don’t fully understand everything yet.

We have had an offer of a Lleyn wether lamb. It’s pretty close to home which is appealing as don’t really want to travel too far although a little more than I wanted to pay but got to weigh up travel costs and time etc.

Would the wether not go in with the ram and ewes at tupping time?

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Keeping a ram
« Reply #18 on: September 17, 2019, 12:39:34 pm »
I had this dilemma last year when I bought my Lleyn ram. Can't see the point of keeping something that won't technically earn its keep so I bought another ram to breed fat lambs from  :roflanim:  The best of my girls go to the lleyn to breed replacement ewes, the few that I don't want to keep replacements from go to the dorset. Works well, the boys are company over the rest of the year for eachother, and if one has a fertility problem at tupping at least I have another ram I can chuck in so my ewes aren't empty. Just have to be careful with reintroducing them after tupping and shearing.

tommytink

  • Joined Aug 2018
Re: Keeping a ram
« Reply #19 on: September 17, 2019, 09:28:31 pm »
This is hopefully what I plan to do as well Twizzel, although one ram for the Radnors and one for the Badgers. Because we’re getting the Badger ram on loan this year we obvs aren’t buying one just yet though.
So now I’m thinking I’ll leave getting the wether and consider maybe leaving him in with the girls for a while. Would there be any issue with him being in for a few months (and take him out before lambing)? Would he keep trying to do his job the whole time and put pressure on the girls?  ???

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Keeping a ram
« Reply #20 on: September 17, 2019, 10:31:12 pm »
Once they are all in lamb he should settle down a bit. He may still sniff about but they won’t be cycling anymore if he’s already got them in lamb. The only risk is a prolonged lambing period if you have ewes returning, and if he doesn’t settle down just keep an eye on his condition  :)

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Keeping a ram
« Reply #21 on: September 18, 2019, 01:01:55 am »
Don’t all sheep cost the same to keep? I’m guessing there may be extra cost with ewes associated with lambing issues? But what about rams? They all eat grass. I don’t think one extra mouth would cost much more in any winter feed that might be needed. And he’d still need vaccs, wormer, fluke, fly strike treatment.


No, they don’t all cost the same.  A breeding ewe is the most expensive.  She is growing lambs, then making milk for them, then getting fit again for tupping again, alongside keeping herself fit and growing her fleece.  It’s a lot more work than a tup does, who is basically a dosser for 49 weeks of the year then works his ba11s off for three weeks ;).  And a wether does the least, all he has to do is keep himself going and grow a fleece.

Each will eat what they need, and that’s a heck of a lot more for a ewe than a wether. 

You pretty much never need to give supplemental feed to a wether.  In winter, the wether needs less than half the hay a pregnant ewe does, and in the 6-8 weeks before lambing and a few weeks after, the ewe needs cake too. In spring and summer, when she’s making milk for her lambs, the ewe will eat at least three times the grass a wether will, or grass and cake if the grass hasn’t come in yet. 

You can get the info and do the maths if you want.  There are lots of figures published for dairy cattle, talking about maintenance ration - what she needs for her own body, and what she needs on top of that to make milk and then to grow her next calf.  A wether needs only the maintenance ration.

Because a ewe is always working very hard, her body is more stressed, so she will need meds way more often than a wether, and will also need more minerals and supplements for the same reason.  In a twelve month period you would probably vaccinate a ewe, worm her once or twice, give her mineral supplementation once or twice, maybe copper needles once, blue spray for her feet once or twice.  Once every three-five years on average maybe she needs antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, or other treatments.  Mr Pie my senior wether always has access to a lump of Himalayan rock salt, as do all our livestock, but I can’t remember when I last had to do anything with him apart from shear him.  Oh, yes, I had to pull a thorn out of his foot shortly after we arrived here, three years ago, when they went into grazing where the blackthorn hedgerow had been recently trimmed.

Adult sheep under no stress and not wormy really shouldn’t be needing flystrike treatment.

I guess one thing that all sheep would need is if you are in a fluke area, you would probably fluke any wethers as well as the tups and ewes.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2019, 01:24:26 am by SallyintNorth »
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

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Keeping a ram
« Reply #22 on: September 18, 2019, 01:05:30 am »

Would the wether not go in with the ram and ewes at tupping time?

Personally I would leave the wether with the non-breeding lambs, if you have any.  The ewes will probably bully him and the tup may be aggressive towards him while tupping is going on.  But he could run with the tup and ewes if there’s nowhere else suitable for him, yes.  If you’re feeding the tup, you won’t want the wether getting any, though ;)
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

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Keeping a ram
« Reply #23 on: September 18, 2019, 01:15:55 am »
Would there be any issue with him being in for a few months (and take him out before lambing)? Would he keep trying to do his job the whole time and put pressure on the girls?  ???

No, there will be no work for him to do once all the girls are in lamb.  It will only be a problem keeping him with the girls when you get to 6-8 weeks before lambing and you want to start feeding the girls - if indeed you do want to cake the ewes before lambing.  Three issues there.  Firstly, the feeds formulated for ewes are not safe for tups and wethers to eat, but with your breeds you would probably be fine with an all-purpose stock mix.  Secondly, teaching tups to run to you for cake can create dangerous monsters, so if you do end up with him in the field while you are feeding ewes, never let him be anything other than respectful towards you - never get out of his way, he must wait for you to move, or go around you.  And thirdly, a minor point, but it adds to the cost, as he doesn’t need the cake.

Some tups are fine to be left in throughout lambing and after, but they aren’t all.  As well as the feeding issue, they can be aggressive towards the lambs and or towards you as you tend your birthing mothers.  So with a new tup it’s probably safer to have him next door the first year, and if you want, put him back in once the lambs are 6-8 weeks old maybe, and see how he behaves then as you tend the ewes.
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

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Keeping a ram
« Reply #24 on: September 18, 2019, 01:18:54 am »
Another factor might be what hay feeders you want to use.  You have polled ewes and a horned tup, I think?  So a ring feeder might not suit the tup, depending on how impressive his headgear is.  And you’d need more trough space and hay heck space to accommodate the horned animal.

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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