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Breeding Soundness Test for Better Lambing, Kidding Seasons

04 September 2014

US - Breeding soundness exams for rams and bucks can take the guessing out of choosing fertile sires as fall breeding season is here, according to a Purdue Extension specialist.

Extension Small Ruminants Specialist Michael Neary says 10 per cent of all rams and bucks are infertile going into the breeding season, which for some producers has already begun.

Infertility can be temporary or permanent and is caused by a variety of circumstances.

"Infertility or inability to breed can happen because of health problems, structural unsoundness, rams too fat or too thin, or it can be impaired semen quality," Mr Neary said.

"Also, rams can become temporarily infertile due to a high body temperature."

High body temperatures in rams and bucks may result from high environmental temperatures or a fever. This can impair their fertility for six to eight weeks.

If a ram or buck is unable to breed, ewes or does will not become pregnant; therefore, at lambing or kidding season, producers might not have enough animals to support their businesses for the year.

"Fertility in rams and bucks is important to Indiana farm flock producers, as many of them have a small, one-ram/buck herd," Mr Neary said. "If their ram happens to be one of the 10 per cent with breeding problems, it can cause a big setback for farmers financially."

Producers can have a veterinarian test their ram's or buck's ability to breed by evaluating the animal's structural soundness, reproductive anatomy and semen.

These evaluations make up the components of a breeding soundness exam, or BSE, that may be conducted 30 days before the breeding season, to choose a fertile ram or buck to impregnate breeding females.

The steps required to do a breeding soundness exam are detailed in an Extension article written by Neary and others from the Department of Animal Sciences. It is available at https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/AS/AS-599-W.pdf.

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