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Sheep Farmers Urged to Help Sector Understand Ram Longevity

04 November 2016

UK - Prompted by claims from members that rams do not work on commercial farms for as many seasons as wanted, the National Sheep Association (NSA) is urging farmers to participate in a new study to find out the truth of what is happening.

NSA is facilitating a group of experts to use funding from the Animal Welfare Foundation to investigate the flock life of breeding males and reasons for deaths and culling in the UK.

Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive says: “It is important for NSA to listen and respond to what our members are telling us, but with this particular situation the lack of information means we are unable to pinpoint practical on-farm solutions for them.

"That is why we thought it was so important to bring together a group of experts and get to the bottom of it – but we cannot do that without the help of farmers to find out exactly what is happening on farm.”

Independent sheep consultant Lesley Stubbings is also involved. She says: “While there is plenty of opinion on how long rams should and do last in commercial flocks, there is no actual data available.

"Estimates of cost range from £1/lamb sired to more than £7 but we want to find out what is going on on-farm with the long-term aim of increasing the number of lambs each ram sires in its lifetime and, therefore, reducing the cost. To help us find out more, we urge sheep farmers to complete a quick survey about how long your rams last, on-farm management and the main problems encountered.”

The survey is just one part of this ram longevity project and can be found at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ramlongevity.

Sheep farmers with 200+ breeding ewes and four years’ of ram purchase information can also help by being part of one-off local focus groups to gather more detailed data. Email enquiries@nationalsheep.org.uk to volunteer.

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