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Purchasing replacement rams: 3 areas to consider

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Rachel Megarrell, a beef and sheep adviser at the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), writes about purchasing replacement rams.

Purchasing replacement rams can be divided into 3 areas:

Selection – Check all areas of the ram carefully using the same procedure for a pre-breeding MOT. The ram’s mouth and pasterns should be correct, it should have good locomotion and it should conform to the breed standard. At a pedigree sale all animals will have passed a pre-sale inspection however it is still important to handle rams before purchase.

Purchase – There will also be a tremendous range of quality and prices available however the highest priced sheep will generally be those which have been well managed and carefully selected for size and appearance. The high prices of these sheep may be difficult to justify on the basis of physical and financial performance.

However, at the other extreme, poorly bred or impoverished sheep may be cheap but not necessarily a good buy, due to poor productivity. Sheep in the middle band probably represent best value for money. At present, markets are running under strict regulations in line with COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, in most instances buyers will have to register and in some cases can avail of online bidding.

Aftercare – In most cases, the farmer will not be familiar with the background of the purchased stock. Therefore, it is better not to take any chances and to carry out the following treatments;

1. Dose for fluke and worms on arrival. Use of a 4-AD monepantel is recommended as a quarantine dose.

2. Vaccination programme.

3. Protection from scab.

4. Footbath.

 “Rams should be quarantined for a period of at least three weeks to avoid introducing unwanted problems into the flock such as contagious ovine digital dermatitis (CODD), resistant worms or scab to name a few.

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