Sheep management: The importance of buying in replacement rams early

It’s coming to that stage in the year where the focus switches to preparing for the upcoming breeding season, particularly for lowland flocks.

Although the breeding season might still feel a long way away yet for farmers, it is never too early to think about what the plan will be for the upcoming breeding period.

A host of ram sales are set to take place, across the country, towards the end of July heading into August.

If the plan is to buy in a ram, then the earlier you can bring in that ram(s) the better.

Leaving it last minute to bring in a ram can lead to a number of problems, that could ultimately prove costly.

There are a number of advantages with regard to buying replacement rams early.

These include: 

  • A larger selection of rams to choose from;
  • Ability to have the ram on your farm, so that he can familiarise himself to his new surroundings and diet, for example, before the breeding season;
  • Ability to complete a full quarantine period in order to avoid bringing in new disease/parasites into your flock.

Allowing a sufficient quarantine period before introducing a purchased ram to your flock of ewes cannot be underestimated.

Also, by buying in a ram early, it will allow you to build up his condition to where you want it to be prior to the breeding season, as leaving it late to buy a ram might not give you enough time to get him up to scratch in terms of body condition for the busy period.

According to Teagasc, a ram can lose up to 15% of its body condition over a six-week mating season, so it’s vital he is in good condition prior to being introduced to the flock.