Are You Ready?
As breeding season is now in full swing for our sheep and goat producers, making plans for this important season is often overlooked. Aside from the essential first step of making sure you have enough “ram/buck power”, there are a few other management procedures that can be used to ensure the season is a success.
- Vaccinate and deworm (if necessary) your flock. Performing FAMACHA analysis or Fecal Egg Counts on your flock is a wise management decision especially if you pull them off pasture to begin flushing them prior to breeding. This will help you assess whether your flock needs deworming prior to breeding. Make sure vaccinations are up to date, consult with your veterinarian to determine which vaccines may be necessary for your flock or herd pre-breeding.
- Have a Breeding Soundness Exam performed on your rams/bucks to test your rams semen levels and motility. During the BSE your veterinarian will also palpate and measure his scrotum and testicles, looking for any variations that may be suggestive of diseases or lack of fertility. This will ensure that they are capable of breeding the quantity of ewes/does you need them to.
- Monitoring breeding by using a marking harness can tell you more than just if a ram has bred a ewe. It can tell you when she was bred, which ram bred her, and whether or not she cycled again. How? By switching crayon colors every week to two weeks and using different colors for different rams.
By switching colors throughout the season you will be better able to guess when a ewe should lamb by looking at the color on her back. If you used red during the first 2 weeks of breeding and blue the second 2 weeks and the ewe is marked blue, then she should lamb later in the season. If you use different colors for different rams you will be able to tell which ewe was bred to which ram. If a ram is outfitted with a color but that color is not on any of the ewes, then he is not doing his job or is being out competed by another ram. Since these marks do not last forever, be sure to write down when you notice a ewe has been marked. Add 145-149 days and this should roughly tell you when she should have her lambs. Also write down when you used a specific crayon and which ram it was on.
Hopefully these tips will give you a jump-start on breeding and lambing/kidding seasons. Good luck on the upcoming breeding season.