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Author Topic: castrate ram lambs or not?  (Read 11817 times)

elizasheep

  • Joined Oct 2010
castrate ram lambs or not?
« on: October 13, 2010, 08:06:45 pm »
Hi,

I would appreciate some advice from experienced shepherds. Once again we have struggled to fatten some of our lambs, and it's mostly the ram lambs. We didn't castrate them because a farmer that we know told us that they wouldn't come on as well as the ewe lambs if we did. However, another farmer has just told us that the reason we can't fatten them is because the hormones have now kicked in and they are too busy fighting and making lerv to get fat. I can well believe that. So it seems that if you can fatten them quickly, leaving them intact is the best way. But we haven't been able to do that yet. All of the lambs are in good health by the way. So, looking forward to next spring now  - do you find that castrating ram lambs with rings in the first week of life does knock them back? If so, is it much? Do they eventually catch up with the ewe lambs? The second farmer that I mentioned castrates at weaning. I don't know how, but it doesn't seem right to be doing it that late on. So I'm just interested in your thoughts on very early castration. Thanks

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: castrate ram lambs or not?
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2010, 08:43:58 pm »
We've got Ryelands and don't castrate. Ours should be away this month but look well grown and chunky. I'm sure is will be affected by breed and method of husbandry too.

Hermit

  • Joined Feb 2010
Re: castrate ram lambs or not?
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2010, 09:03:46 pm »
We have Shetlands and have not castrated. The ram lambs were as big as the ewes when slaughtered.However we were told that they must be slaughtered before end of September or else the hormones kick in and then cant kill till spring. Dont know about other breeds but we ended up with some of the best lamb we have had. Not castrating again thats for sure. Another advantage cause we home kill is that the slaughterman is not too busy.

Cinderhills

  • Joined Jul 2010
  • North Yorkshire
Re: castrate ram lambs or not?
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2010, 10:37:31 pm »
Have Ryelands too.  This second year we didn't castrate and our one ram lamb is very chunky.  A lot bigger then the females but he was a single and they were twins.  I wouldn't castrate in future either, it seemed to make a big difference.   He's not due to be slaughtered until next week so don't know what the meat will be like yet.

andywalt

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • kent
  • observe react administer enjoy !!
    • photos
Re: castrate ram lambs or not?
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2010, 10:45:02 pm »
when a ram lamb is in season.....in autumn evedently the meat if slaughtered at this time is "tainted" not a nice taste.......thats what ive heard !!
Suffolk x romneys and Texel X with Romney Tup, Shetlands and Southdown Tup

ScotsGirl

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • Wiltshire
Re: castrate ram lambs or not?
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2010, 11:06:04 pm »
Well last year I didn't castrate my ram lambs and some local yokels said the meat would be bad.... rubbish!  It was fab.  Lambs fattened quickly but were Suffolks and I was told they would reach a limit then hormones kick in and that's that.  I do send them off September so miss tupping time.  I believe it is the same with pigs if you kill during breeding season meat is definitely tainted if near females.

This year however I castrated as wasn't sure how quickly the breed would develop.  Weights were as good as last year even though a smaller breed (Southdown cross).

I would say castrate if you are lacking space to separate ewes and rams or if you want to hold longer and let carcass develop, otherwise it won't matter. 

andywalt

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • kent
  • observe react administer enjoy !!
    • photos
Re: castrate ram lambs or not?
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2010, 11:17:10 pm »
thats good to know scotsgirl, good information to have, thanks
Suffolk x romneys and Texel X with Romney Tup, Shetlands and Southdown Tup

Cinderhills

  • Joined Jul 2010
  • North Yorkshire
Re: castrate ram lambs or not?
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2010, 09:19:52 am »
I heard about this tainting too so checked with other Ryeland folk and they said that they had never encountered that problem.

Good point Scotsgirl about if space is an issue.

darkbrowneggs

  • Joined Aug 2010
    • The World is My Lobster
Re: castrate ram lambs or not?
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2010, 09:52:29 am »
I kept black welsh mountain for years and never castrated anything.  All the sheep were always run together, though one year when I was short of grass and they hadn't come on as well I split the males from the females for extra feeding. 

Never had any problems with any fighting or mating as the senior ram simply kept the younger boys away from the sheep, not particularly by fighting just making sure he was standing between them.  My fields aren't that large either, but everything always worked well

I did have problems getting anything up to size in the early years till I discovered I had a mineral deficiency in the soil, after that if anything was not thriving I got them Selenium and Cobalt, and also treated them homeopathically to help absorption.  Also later on I kept seaweed meal on offer and that seemed a good help.

My first thought would be have the soil checked for mineral content, and take it from there, plus if you want to really speed them on feed concentrates at judicious times, and, of course make sure they are getting plenty of grass, and they are not having a worm problem

All the best
Sue
Dark Brown Eggs

PS I have eaten entire ram lambs at most stages and times of the year.  There is definitely a stronger flavour to a well grown ram, but I personally don't find it "tainted" though I wouldn't slaughter a young ram or ram lamb in the breeding season.
To follow my travel journal see http://www.theworldismylobster.org.uk

For lots of info about Marans and how to breed and look after them see www.darkbrowneggs.info

lachlanandmarcus

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: castrate ram lambs or not?
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2010, 12:28:44 pm »
I normally castrate with rubber ring, as the Shetlands arent ready for slaughter until the spring and it makes management easier. Also it stops their horns developing which means I can put them in electric fence fields as opposed to only having the option of the sheep fenced field. Saving up for more permanent fencing.

But one ram lamb this year was born with big horns and big balls and couldnt castrate him within a week as required by law for the rubber ring, so he has been left entire. He is def bigger all over than the castrated chaps. I wont send him off now until the spring but I think he could go now in reality if it werent for the taint risk.

(Trouble is, OH has now got fond of him but he's related to some our girls so if anyone wants a young (unreg) Shetland shearling tup for next year, let us know so I dont have to wrestle OH from letting him out of the trailer taking him to the abbatoir in spring. To the right home, he would be very cheap).

landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: castrate ram lambs or not?
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2010, 12:39:13 pm »
Took the last of my lambs to market last week. None of the males were castrated but they were still fat and weighed 10kg more than the females. Got a better price/kg with the females but the ram lambs still made 10/ lamb more.
I have in the past kept Ryelands and have had ram lambs over fat in December when they were killed. They had only been fed on grass but this was very clean grass that had never had sheep on.
   
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

shrekfeet

  • Joined Sep 2008
Re: castrate ram lambs or not?
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2010, 03:18:51 pm »
ok, last year I castrated the ram lambs. this year I only had 2 rams and they were both weak and I figured they could do without the additional setback so let entire. Big mistake, didn't grow any quicker (I thought they would) and then became a logistical nightmare when I was trying to stop them bonking their mothers and cousins! So, in short, why would you keep them entire and create the additional hassle unless you want to keep/sell for breeding?!

elizasheep

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: castrate ram lambs or not?
« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2010, 09:17:02 pm »
Thanks very much for all of those replies - very interesting and informative. As always, opinion varies  :D. We've still got a while to decide what to do, and I am going to look into the mineral deficiency theory.

 

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