Farmers across Wales are being advised to conduct health checks and make the best use of data at ram sales this autumn as tupping time approaches.

Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) programme officer Sean Jeffreys said: "When attending sales, make use of data and information to hand, such as estimated breeding values (EBVs) to make an informed investment.

"Relying on looks will only get you so far but utilising EBVs will allow farmers to purchase rams suitable to their own systems and situations. Fat depth and muscle depth EBVs can tell farmers much more about meat yield than any visual judgement."

In addition to making use of information and data available, HCC is also recommending physical assessments of rams to ensure they are in the best working condition possible.

"It is important to carry out full health checks so that any issues can be identified and resolved before putting tups out to ewes," said Sean.

"Both ewes and rams should be body condition scored and when carrying out a ram MOT – the three key areas of concern are the three Ts – toes, teeth and testicles.

"It is important that feet are healthy and free from sores or injuries during mating season while missing or misaligned teeth will hinder a tup’s foraging ability. Nutrition is key for tups during this time so it is vital that they are able to sustain themselves throughout the season.

"Testicles are the most important aspect of a health check. They should be even in size and texture and be firm and hard to touch."

Farmers are also advised to quarantine new rams when they join a new farm. It is also important to understand what type of system they have been produced in and adapt their nutrition accordingly. Rams reared on a high concentrate diet may benefit from being quarantined on grass with a gradual weaning of concentrates.

Sean explained: "Putting rams straight to work from a sale can cause an overload of stress – especially combined with a lack of good nutrition leading up to mating."

HCC will be present at various ram sales throughout Wales including the Welsh Mountain Breeding Group sale on September 19 and the NSA Wales sale at Builth Wells on September 23. HCC staff will be on hand with best practise advice, information booklets and updates on HCC’s latest work.