The tup accounts for half of the flock, but are often the most neglected members of the flock. Their role includes producing the next crop of lambs which can include female replacements which will last in the flock for the next 5 years plus. The cost of replacement males and females are often one of the highest variable costs in a flock. If tups are not working to their full potential, it could result in a reduced lamb crop and a longer lambing period, ultimately affecting farm profitability.
Through the selling process, tups undergo stress, this can be from travelling to the mart, going round the ring, being in different surroundings and a change of diet between owners. Time must be given to allow the tup to adapt to his new surroundings and diet before being introduced to the flock.
Sperm production takes approximately 7 weeks in tups. The nutrition of the animal two months prior to breeding can increase testicle size and sperm production. Overfeeding tups can have the opposite effect. Aim for Body Condition Score (BCS) 3.5 – 4. Rams can lose up to 15% of their body weight during the mating period.
If tup lambs are purchased remember most lambs reach puberty between 5 and 7 months old, when they are approximately 50-60% of their mature body weight. This age depends on breed as well as nutrition. Do your homework and find out when the lambs where born and the diet they have been fed before making breeding decisions. Tup lambs may be more suitable for small groups of later breeding ewes, proving their fertility and genetics until the following year for larger mobs of earlier breeding ewes.
For all of the reasons above the newly purchased tup should be slowly acclimatised to his new surroundings and diet. As well as adjusting they should also undergo a health check including all the T’s – teeth, testicles, tone, toes and their first MOT.
Kirsten Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org
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