The world of sheep is vast and comes with lots of goodies. Huge profits can be made from wool and meat sales, breeding, and using sheep for land management. But first, you need to understand the sheep’s world language to make progress and profit from your animals. For instance, what is a yearling ram? And, how can you earn a living from it?
A yearling ram is a male sheep between the ages of 1 and 2 years, whether or not it has produced offspring. If you have fed it correctly, a yearling ram is at its productivity peak and could potentially settle 50 or more ewes.
How To Select The Right Yearling Ram For Your Flock
For most breeders, while a ram lamb can potentially breed from 7 months, they’ll turn it into a breeding pen when they are a year old.
The main reason is most yearling rams will have attained the required breeding weight and size and are healthy enough to handle the demands of breeding.
As a rule of thumb, the ram needs to be between 50 to 60 percent of the expected maturity weight. For instance, if the ram is projected to be 300 pounds at maturity, it’s ready for breeding when it reaches 150 to 180 pounds of live weight. Also, it’s the right weight to harvest rams for slaughter or trade shows.
If you intend to make a yearling ram a terminal sire, you need to establish that it possesses characteristics that will better the performance of your flock. In addition, it must include the right genetics that complements your flock’s good traits.
But since a ram could possess several desirable qualities, you need to value those that align with your goals for your herd.
For instance, if you want to improve your flock’s lambing performance or visual appearance, go for rams that exhibit those strengths.
Classify growth, carcass, maternal, parasite resistance, and wool production traits for easy evaluation.
Managing Yearling Rams For Breeding
How do you manage your yearling rams for breeding purposes? Yearling rams are a special group of your flock that may need extra care to maintain their potential.
They are at their peak but also not so experienced in their breeding journey. Also, they can exhibit extra aggressiveness that could be dangerous to them and mature ewes and rams in the flock.
As a top priority in managing yearling rams, keep them separate from mature rams and never put the two groups together in breeding pens. Doing so prevents dominance wars that could result in fatal injuries to the lighter and less experienced yearling rams.
In addition, though they could potentially breed more ewes, limit the number per yearling ram to between 10 to 15 and increase gradually.
Ensure you prepare your yearling rams and breeding pens several days before breeding season. Shear your rams early enough and ensure the cells have good air circulation as hot weather and high body temperatures result in fast exhaustion during mating.
Check testes for abnormalities in size, numbers, and diseases like epididymitis. Regular palpation could help detect the size and other irregularities.
For accurate results, measure the scrotal circumference at the midpoint of the testes. Technically, the larger the testes, the higher the fertility potential of a ram, but circumferences of at least 9.5 inches are okay.
Good nutrition will keep the rams energetic and sperm production and libido high. Also, well-fed rams have good mating stamina and can service more ewes. However, you must balance the feeds to ensure they maintain the peak weight and size for breeding, as losing or gaining much weight is counterproductive.
Let them feed on as many green pastures and hay as possible but limit grains to 2% of their body weight. If your animals cannot access enough green forage, you need to give vitamin A supplements as they need enough for sperm production.
You should continue with the special diet past breeding season. This will ensure the yearlings regain the weight they may have lost during mating.
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People Also Ask Questions
Can a yearling ram get a ewe pregnant?
A yearling ram can get a ewe pregnant. Even so, we assume the animal is fertile, well managed, and fed.
In the right conditions, a yearling ram should be able to impregnate 15 to 30 ewes within a breeding season of 34 days.
Are yearling rams ready for slaughter?
Yes, yearling rams are ready for slaughter. They will produce a heavier carcass than lamb rams but are less preferred as the meat’s flavor is more intense.
Unless the yearling ram has not achieved harvesting weight before getting to a year of age, most farmers will be keeping them for breeding purposes and not for slaughter.
Can you keep two yearling rams together?
You can keep two yearling rams together, but they need to be oriented early to avoid dominance wars. A good practice is keeping them together from an early age in a small pen or a lambing jug.
You could accompany them with a buddy ram or a wether ram if they were acquired while already grown. Though they may fight occasionally, the buddy ram will reduce the need for dominance.
A yearling ram is a year to two years old male sheep that play an integral role in your farm. They are essential members of any flock as they are productively at their peak and could potentially grow or stunt the rest of the herd.
You can sell them for slaughter, but most breeders keep yearling rams for breeding purposes. If you decide to make them terminal sires, ensure they possess quality genetics that will improve your flock’s characteristics and performance.
Also, you need to give them extra care and feed them well to retain and enhance their productivity. All said and done; if you take good care of your yearling rams, they will care for your flock.