Supplement Feed to Recover Your Ram
All serious sheep producers will have goals for the flock. Flock goals will determine how the flockmaster selects breeding rams. Breeding rams can be selected from among lambs or obtained from outside the flock. Irrespective of other attributes, all breeding rams should be selected to maximize growth rate, thriftiness, and breeding drive. These attributes are associated, and tend to be a package. Rams with less drive for breeding are often smaller, less dominant, and less fertile.
A strong, aggressive breeding ram can be the pride of the flock. The attributes that make him a valuable breeding ram can also leave the ram compromised by the end of the breeding season, and flockmasters need to take steps to preserve the strength and vigor of a valuable ram to maximize his productivity and longevity.
No special diet or formula exists to keep rams in top condition through the breeding season, and the best thing for breeding rams is for flockmasters to be aware of physical demands on breeding rams.
Thrifty, strong, vigorous rams become single-minded during breeding months. They pace fence lines, test gates and fences for weak spots, scuffle and challenge one another. This activity seems not to cease for months. Fighting among rams can also result in injuries. Vigorous rams will choose to pace and test fences to the exclusion of feeding during breeding season. Breeding season begins during the autumn months and does not subside until after January. Without extra attention, rams can loose substantial body mass by the end of breeding season. Breeding season ends just when range and pasture conditions are at the poorest level.
To both preserve condition during breeding and restore body condition afterwards, I like to supplement forage with high energy feed. Any grain, grain mix, or formulated concentrate will work. Plain cracked corn is high in energy and can cost less than other concentrates. It doesn't take much. For medium sized rams, 175-200 pounds, a pound per day can be enough when added to regular forage. The extra energy will help rams maintain weight and energy levels. That amount can be increased for rams loosing condition. It is critical that flockmasters monitor the body condition, activity level, and behavior of rams during breeding, and take steps to prevent loss of condition.
It should be stated that rams will age beyond their prime, and it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain body condition in aging sheep. Body mass declines, vigor declines, ambition and energy seem to decline too. Physiology becomes less efficient, and mouth and teeth problems will develop. To keep old rams productive, flockmasters must be extra vigilant, and such animals might require extra concentrate to stay fit through breeding season. For a valuable and proven ram, the extra attention and expense might be worth prolonged production from that individual.
Monitor rams carefully through breeding, supplement with concentrated feeds as needed to avoid the effort and expense of recovering a ram after he becomes compromised and run down. Efforts to maintain rams will prolong their useful and productive lives.