Diary: Using the old-fashioned yet, tried and tested ram effect
In this week’s Farmer’s Diary, sheep farmer, Clodagh Hughes, talks about the breeding season, the ram effect
It has been a quiet couple of weeks since my last diary entry, folks, and, with my breeding season 2022 well and truly underway, it is time for me to start thinking about the winter months ahead and being prepared for any issues that may arise.
I have to sort out my shed, which is in a complete mess.
There is a load of hay bales on the floor that I have to move to another wee shed, and, would you believe, the wool from shearing is still in a heap in a corner.
I have to source bags big enough to pack it away and put it over in my father’s shed in the hopes that the value of this underestimated natural commodity will improve next year.
As I mentioned above, breeding season has kicked off here.
I let the rams out on Sunday there, and I was delighted to see that they were immediately ‘on the job’, so to speak.
I am always a wee bit anxious when introducing new rams to the flock, but my fears were completely unfounded.
So, now I am confident that these new boys will do a sterling job.
I use an old-fashioned yet, tried and tested approach to my breeding called the ram effect.
And it is really quite a simple method, quite natural too which fits in with my ethos on the farm here.
The way it works is that; for approximately four weeks before you plan to introduce the rams to the ewes, you keep them out of each other’s sight, sound and smell.
Ideally, a week before tupping, you could put them in adjoining fields (with very strong fences!)
As this helps the ewes begin to cycle or come into heat, meaning they will be receptive to the rams.
I have not tried this yet, but I have been very happy with how the ram effect works for me so far.
Where possible, I like to pick a day that is calm and dry for the turnout.
The main aim for using the ram effect is to try and have as close a lambing period as possible, in as natural a way as possible.
There are other ways of helping nature along that involve the use of hormones but, apart from the added cost and the need for more rams on-farm, I personally prefer the ram effect as it is closer to nature’s way.
I have to admit though, there are definite benefits to the use of more modern breeding techniques as they can ensure a much tighter lambing season.
It is all about finding the right fit for your farm.
This is the first time since I started my farming venture in 2016 that I am not worrying about having enough grass for my ewes and new lambs next spring.
I have been able to pick the fields I want to close off in the next few weeks to allow them to rest over the winter.
There are so many things I did not get done this summer, but the year is not over yet.
Read another one of Clodagh’s entries.