Using raddle

Your tup or ram needs to be fertile and have normal libido – these are tricky to assess, although you can ask your vet to carry out a fertility test, and problems may not become apparent until he’s gone in with the ewes.

For this reason, I would advise the use of raddle – either as a block with a harness or simply smeared on the tup’s chest. Some tups don’t seem to like the harness and, if you choose to use one, check it regularly to ensure that is not rubbing or chafing.

Applying raddleApplying raddle directly to the tup's chest.

Benefits of using raddle

Using raddle has three purposes:

  • To check that the tup is working effectively;
  • To check that ewes are cycling;
  • To predict lambing date.

If you turn your tup out with the ewes and there is no sign of marking within a few days, your ram may not be working at all. If a significant number of ewes that have been marked as mated in the first 17 day cycle are marked again in the second 17 day cycle, your tup may be infertile or sub-fertile.

The usual practice is to change the colour of the raddle after each 17 day period so that you can spot any ewes coming back into season.

We use raddle in powder form, mix it with vegetable oil and slap it on the tup’s chest before he goes in. The mixture needs to be quite far back between his front legs or the usual foreplay that goes on prior to a proper mating will mark the ewe.

Check the raddle regularly as it dries out. We use yellow then green – both show on brown fleece and the green adequately covers the yellow.

With a small flock like ours, I check them daily and write down in the diary who’s been mated each day. After the tup is removed, I work out when each ewe is due to lamb (I have a chart for this) and write it in the diary.

Rosemary Champion

About Rosemary Champion

Rosemary lives on a 12 acre smallholding in Angus, in the east of Scotland, where she keeps Ryeland Sheep, Shetland cattle and assorted poultry. She was destined to be a smallholder from an early age.

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