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A Guide for Ram Buyers

It is vitally important to identify rams and ewes with superior genetic merit (breeding potential), as their genes are the only attribute that will pass from one generation to the next.

This is easier said than done, because so many factors influence an animal’s appearance – including its age, whether it was reared as a single or twin and most importantly the amount it was fed.

Performance recording schemes were developed to make the process of identifying superior genetics easier. Records of performance are analysed to tease out the non-genetic influences on an animal’s performance so that its true genetic potential can be assessed.

This is important when the traits of interest are clearly visible, such as growth rate and carcase conformation, and absolutely vital when it comes to maternal traits that can’t be assessed visually.

Trials have shown the right ram can be worth an extra £600 over his working lifetime – so it makes sense to find the ram with the right genetics for your flock.

Using Breeding Charts to Select the Right Ram

Breeding information is often displayed on charts, where the central line represent the average level of performance within the breed. Estimated Breeding Values, Indexes and Accuracy Values are all displayed on these sale charts - which can be printed by breeders and buyers directly from the website.

 Ram Buying Tips

There are a number of factors to consider when buying a ram using performance records:

  • Set breeding objectives that will optimise the profitability of your flock
  • Talk to the ram breeder about your requirements
  • Select rams with the right Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) to realise these objectives
  • Review their EBVs using the Signet search engine
  • Compare each ram’s EBVs against the Breed Benchmark to identify their strengths and weaknesses
  • Remember EBVs can be compared between flocks, but not between breeds
  • Buy early to ensure the availability of a wide selection of recorded rams
  • It pays to invest. The difference between an average ram and one with high EBVs could be worth £500 during its lifetime.
  • Look after the health and nutritional requirements of your ram to ensure he has a long productive life