A study was undertaken to better understand the care and attitudes towards rams on NZ commercial farms. Farms (n=22) were surveyed in Otago and South Canterbury giving indicative data on the treatment and attitudes that commercial farmers have towards rams. On average (SD; Range) the number of ewes put to each ram was, for maternal and terminal sires respectively, 92 (21; 56-143) and 84 (20; 50-100). The reported difference between when rams were put to ewes and when lambs were weaned was 319 days (51; 199-359). Rams were typically put to ewes in April and early May, and weaned as early as November. Visual assessment was most commonly used to assess rams for purchase, with most farmers considering visual attributes and then figures, such as breeding values, to choose rams. The average mortality of rams was reported as 5% (7%; 0-28%). The average culling of maternal and terminal sires over the year was respectively 26 and 29%. Annual health checks by a vet were reported for 45% of the farms. A most common reason for checking was for Brucella ovis testing. This research will provide information to guide further studies on commercial sheep farms.

DR, Scobie, AG Makela, C van Koten, and D O'Connell

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 77, Rotorua, 154-158, 2017
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