The final week of breeding for many early April lambing flocks is fast approaching and farmers will be preparing to turn their rams out for their 11-month holiday in the coming days.

Farmers are hoping that their rams have been fruitful and that the 2017 breeding season has been a success.

However, unless raddle has been used, farmers will only be guessing on how their rams have performed until pregnancy scanning has been completed.

Farmers who have opted not to use raddle may face the risk of being disappointed come scanning. This is particularly the case if rams weren’t switched between mobs.

By using raddle now, farmers will be able to identify any ewes that have not held to the first or second service – depending on how long the ewes and rams have been joined.

The use of raddle now could save a headache come December/January when it’s too late to take corrective action.

If the ram is still active and a large number of ewes are ‘raddled’ you may have a problem. A number of factors could have caused this. But if it was simply a ‘misfiring’ ram, the problem can be easily rectified by parachuting in another tup.

According to Teagasc, alarm bells should sound if more than 15% of the ewe flock is being raddled towards the end of the breeding season.

In instances where farmers have already raddled their rams, they should now be considering using a different, darker colour raddle. This could also help highlight any fertility issues.