Raddling rams: A must this breeding season

October is generally the month where sheep farmers, who operate a mid-season lambing system, let their ram(s) out with their flock of ewes.

It is well documented that not enough record-keeping takes place on sheep farms across the country. However, the mating season provides an ideal opportunity for farmers to start.

To avoid disappointment at scanning time, a good idea is to raddle your rams. This will help farmers to become aware of any issues that may occur throughout the breeding season.

Also Read: What weight should my ewe lambs be at breeding?

Raddling your ram(s) will help you to monitor mating performance and spot problems quickly. It is too late to do anything about it when you find out at scanning time that your ewes are empty.

If you plan to raddle your rams, then the best thing to do is start using a light-coloured raddle and then change the colour every seven to 10 days. 

By changing the raddle colour, a farmer can estimate the date the ewe had mated with the ram and calculate the approximate date that ewe will lamb down.

Along with scanning, this allows the farmer to batch the ewes correctly and prevents over-feeding or under-feeding of the sheep prior to lambing.

To ensure as many ewes go in lamb, it would be best to have more than one ram, so that you can replace injured or infertile rams if needs be.

Benefits of raddling rams include:

  • Rams that are raddled provide a clear indication of the number of ewes mated and give farmers an indication of a lambing date;
  • Infertile rams can be identified early and removed straight away from the flock;
  • Changing the raddle colour regularly will allow you to identify ewes that return to service. If too many ewes repeat, a faulty ram should be suspected and replaced;
  • Changing raddle colour frequently – every seven to 10 days – enables ewes to be grouped together at housing by expected lambing date;
  • Grouping ewes by expected lambing date and scanned litter size enables farmers to supplement optimum levels of feed that the ewe requires.