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6 September 2017

A good Ram MOT detects 90% of problems.

Checking ram health and condition 12 – 6 weeks pre-mating gives time to make any management changes or treatments to ensure rams are in the best condition for tupping.  It takes 6 weeks for spermatozoa to mature so clearing up a bad infection in a head wound needs time.  If rams are not working to their full potential, it could result in a reduced lamb crop and a longer lambing period, ultimately affecting farm profitability.

Rams should receive an MOT at least 8 weeks pre tupping, including the following:

  • Aim for Body Condition Score (BCS) 3.5 – 4. Rams can lose up to 15% of their body weight during the mating period.
  • Additional feed may be required 6 weeks pre mating if rams are not in the correct BCS. This will increase energy, allow for testicular growth and semen production.  Aim for 12.5MJ ME/kg DM and 180-200g/kg DM, avoid high levels of magnesium.
  • Check the teeth and mouth as well as listening for any ‘snoring’ sounds, this could suggest laryngeal thickening, seek veterinary treatment if this is heard.
  • Check for cracks and infection at the base of horns, any CLA (Caseous Lymphadenitis) abscesses around throat and neck, or sunburn/photosensitized skin.
  • Check for wool loss and irritation which may be due to scab, lice, bacterial dermatitis.
  • Check the brisket for any painful sores that can reduce desire to work.
  • Lameness is a big cause of reduced fertility, look for any abnormality in the limbs. Check the feet for any scald, footrot or CODD.
  • Check for abnormalities to the prepuce, such as ulcers, swellings, orf, discharge or blood
  • Check the penis for growths, adhesions, deviation or loss of urethral process at the tip
  • Check for scrotal hernias, appearing as a soft swelling above the testicles.
  • Testicles should be firm but springy, equal, heavy, smooth, freely movable.
  • Watch out for small testicles (one or both) or hard and enlarged testicle(s) which suggests inflammation. The epididymis, located at the bottom of each testicle, should be equal in size and smooth.
  • Scrotal circumference (measure both together at widest bit). Check for woolly scrotums, these can affect the ability of the scrotum to keep the testes cool.
  • Scrotal circumference is related to fertility, rams with larger testicles produce ewe lambs that breed earlier.

Scrotal Circumference

Mature Ram

Lowland breeds:   36 – 38 cm

Hill breeds:  34 – 36 cm


Lowland breeds:  32 – 34 cm

Hill breeds:  30 – 32 cm

Ram Lambs

Lowland breeds:  30 cm

Hill breeds:  28 cm

Kirsten Williams,


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