Ewe lamb/ram lamb ratios

Keepers

Member
Location
Overton
Hi there,

I asked @Tim W about this when I picked up a teaser from him last week and he was as perplexed as I am so wondering if anyone can come up with any ideas.

I have had a completely stupid ewe lamb/ram lamb ration for the last two years, each year different rams
My ratio is for every 32 ram lambs I had 5 ewe lambs, which means I have had 80% ram lambs in 2013, this year lambing I have had 86.4% ram lambs, this year was to two tups and neither I had used before.

This is a pain in the ass for me as I'm trying to grow the flock by keeping ewe lambs, I have had to buy some in this year due to lack of female lambs, I want to be up at 150 ewes for tupping 2015 and if I get a silly ratio again come lambing time then yet again I will have to buy a load in

Last year the ewes were tupped on steep ground in stroud with a mix of diverse grazing, the rams did tend to fight alot whilst tupping, ewes were a mix of breeds, lambing % was 175

This year I am tupping on flat ground, a shorter sward but higher quality grazing, they have super tup tubs in with them but no cake or grains, I am putting tups in in two weeks time, splitting the groups into two tupping groups

Is there anything obvious that I am missing which could cause this ratio :scratchhead: anything that I could change before the tups go in?

Nutrient deficiency? too much testosterone? rams balls too woolly? :rolleyes:

Anyone else got a ratio like this one?

Many thanks
 

$Sheep

Member
Location
New Zealand
I would not have believed a ewe / ram lamb ratio that you have quoted was possible thinking a 50 / 50 division would be average with a range up to 10 - 15 percent either way as the norm. The only reason I could explain with any plausibility that would swing the ratio in favour of ewe lambs was that ram lambs are more prone to mortality soon after birth. Perhaps it is a nutrient imbalance immediately prior to tupping that determines the dominance of one sex in favour of the other! Or the tup ram is just simply loaded up with male chromosomes the outcome could only go one way! A bit like the family down the road with six boys running amok terrorising the neighbourhood.
 

Guiggs

Member
Location
Leicestershire
The male of a species determines the sex of its offspring, it's the Y chromosome although mother nature usually make the ratio roughly 50/50.
I've heard people say that nutrition etc makes a difference but I think that's crap personally!
Last year I probably had about 75% female so with your % males Mother nature was about right!
Things will probably even out this year for us both but it might be worth trying a different tup?
It must Be very frustrating if your building numbers up but you can't controll nature only work with it!
 

Keepers

Member
Location
Overton
Thanks for the replies!

I have different tups this year, I still think it may have something to do with the fact that last year my two tups were fighting the whole time whilst tupping, so upping the testosterone levels?? maybe thats poppycock but was just an idea, never mixing a mature horned ram with a polled ram lamb again... :facepalm:

Im pretty sure in myself that this year would even up, I have many more bought in ewes this year and different land and different tups!!! so not much the same at all, if I had 1/3rd ewe lambs then I would be happy! but yes not many ewe lambs to keep this year as not all of them even made the cut :cry:

Will wait and see!
 

jonty1

Member
Livestock Farmer
I thought you may be interested in my experience. We have a sheep stud and selling rams is our bread and butter. We had a serious drought here in our part of the world last year and all our ewes had to hand fed everything. We cut down the number of ewes we bred. Hay was hard to get and very expensive so we fed lupins and what ever hay we could get - usually triticale, wheaten hay and a little meadow hay. We hand fed the rams prior to mating also. We mated 150 ewes and hand feeding continued for the first 5 weeks of mating.

Normally we have an even number of both sexes give or take about 5%. At this lambing time we had 100 ewe lambs, 60 ram lambs and 12 ewes either did not lamb or lost their lamb at lambing time. After making several enquiries I found out that feeding grain prior to mating can increase ewe lambs by 15% - but our percentage was much higher. This was the first time we have ever had such a high ewe lamb percentage.

We are due to start mating in about 6 weeks so there is no extra feed for the girls - I am trying to ensure we get a different result next year.
 

neilo

Member
Location
Montgomeryshire
I’ve never heard of diet effecting ratio of ewes to rams, and would doubt it very much. My early lambers (who lambed a fortnight ago) were in the best fettle they’ve ever been at tupping time thanks to the better grazing season here, and certainly didn’t receive any grain or hard feed. They too ran at 2/3 females, unusually (which is I agree unfortunate in a ram breeding flock).
Incidentally, there were 6 ET lambs born from frozen embryos in that mob, which had been conceived last year, and they too ran at 2/3 females.

I fully expect the later mob of pedigree (or ‘stud’ ewes) to sort the average out though.
 

jonty1

Member
Livestock Farmer
I agree it does sound strange but I really would like to find out for sure. Six years ago Primary Industries in Wagga Wagga in NSW did some trial work with 1500 ewes and they came to the conclusion that Maybe diet played a part in the ram/ewe ratio. As soon as the Christmas holidays are over I am going to contact them to see what they have to say. I have never had this ratio happen before and if there is anything I can do to avoid a repetition I will do it. I also have a friend who breeds first cross ewes (Border Leicester/Merino) and he wants to know so he can get more ewe lambs!!

One other thing that was a bit abnormal - but in a better way - was the lambs all weighed heavier than usual for us at weaning. At 13 to 16 weeks they were weighing in at 40 - 70kg. We had 6 that were 76kg. These were the earlier ones at 18 weeks. This was on no extra feed - I can live with that!

I appreciate your comments and look forward to hearing from anyone who may have some input to make. I advise what PI at Wagga say when I have contacted them
 
I agree it does sound strange but I really would like to find out for sure. Six years ago Primary Industries in Wagga Wagga in NSW did some trial work with 1500 ewes and they came to the conclusion that Maybe diet played a part in the ram/ewe ratio. As soon as the Christmas holidays are over I am going to contact them to see what they have to say. I have never had this ratio happen before and if there is anything I can do to avoid a repetition I will do it. I also have a friend who breeds first cross ewes (Border Leicester/Merino) and he wants to know so he can get more ewe lambs!!

One other thing that was a bit abnormal - but in a better way - was the lambs all weighed heavier than usual for us at weaning. At 13 to 16 weeks they were weighing in at 40 - 70kg. We had 6 that were 76kg. These were the earlier ones at 18 weeks. This was on no extra feed - I can live with that!

I appreciate your comments and look forward to hearing from anyone who may have some input to make. I advise what PI at Wagga say when I have contacted them
800g/day DLWG? No extra feed?

These are serious claims. I’d be pleased with a DLWG of 300g/day on grass... could maybe push it with good grassland management.
 

jonny

Member
Location
leitrim
I agree it does sound strange but I really would like to find out for sure. Six years ago Primary Industries in Wagga Wagga in NSW did some trial work with 1500 ewes and they came to the conclusion that Maybe diet played a part in the ram/ewe ratio. As soon as the Christmas holidays are over I am going to contact them to see what they have to say. I have never had this ratio happen before and if there is anything I can do to avoid a repetition I will do it. I also have a friend who breeds first cross ewes (Border Leicester/Merino) and he wants to know so he can get more ewe lambs!!

One other thing that was a bit abnormal - but in a better way - was the lambs all weighed heavier than usual for us at weaning. At 13 to 16 weeks they were weighing in at 40 - 70kg. We had 6 that were 76kg. These were the earlier ones at 18 weeks. This was on no extra feed - I can live with that!

I appreciate your comments and look forward to hearing from anyone who may have some input to make. I advise what PI at Wagga say when I have contacted them
We’re only wasting our time trying to fatten on grass if you can get thrive rates from just the sun and a bit of feed
 
I found a couple of years ago that a new, younger tup produced way more females than the older ones. My theory was that in their eagerness they jumped earlier in the ewe’s cycle and before the egg had fully descended. The female sperm are slower moving so will take longer to get the point of fertilisation, whereas the male sperm could swim faster, but had run out of energy before the egg was in place. That was my theory - interestingly the next year the eager tup has slowed a big (now a shearling) and the proportion drifted back towards more males. An older tup will wait until he’s sure it’s time, which means the egg will be in place and the after male sperm would do the job before the females were out of the starting blocks? Depending on how hands on you are, you could maybe experiment by only letting the tup in every other day, to try and push things back for the ewes?

As for diet, I recall being told that the acidity of the female fluids can be affected by diet and that this can be more favourable to one type of sperm over the other. I can’t remember all the details but remember being told that rice pudding (presumably alkali) would help bump the chances towards sons, or maybe daughters - it was a long time ago. Perhaps your soil is such that the ewes’ insides are particularly acid, or alkali?
 

andybk

Member
Location
Mendips Somerset
we looked into it while back , was noticed that ewes bred early produced more ram lambs on old pasture (maybe tighter grazing in summer) but far more ewe lambs off high clover leys , that said by time later (march) ones were added to flock , it still isnt far off 50/ 50 over the lot . smaller numbers and tight lambing periods will exaggerate any enviromental / feed effects either way
 

neilo

Member
Location
Montgomeryshire
We’re only wasting our time trying to fatten on grass if you can get thrive rates from just the sun and a bit of feed
I read the 'no extra feed' claim as being on grass & sunshine. Maybe be extra condition on the ewes will have helped them to a higher peak lactation, but quite phenomenal results even so.
 

jonny

Member
Location
leitrim
I read the 'no extra feed' claim as being on grass & sunshine. Maybe be extra condition on the ewes will have helped them to a higher peak lactation, but quite phenomenal results even so.
Sun does play a good part of thrive as last April and may were sunny and dm was high and I had the first pick off at 14 wks at 19.7 kg d/w
 

jonty1

Member
Livestock Farmer
re weights of lambs - one thing that was different was that we had fed out meadow hay and trit and whatever we could find during the drought and mating. Normally we never feed out meadow hay or trit - it just happened to be all we could get in the drought. The price of hay and grains went up by 150%!! and that was if you could find it

When it did rain, which from memory was April/May (our autumn), we had a lot of grasses etc come up that I could not recognise but also lots and lots of clovers. In fact so much clover that we commented on the fact that feeding meadow hay obviously had a lot of side benefits. So the lambs were born onto good feed with the grasses and clovers.

We have never had weights on our lambs like that before. I wish we did. Usually I am racking my brains trying to work out what I am doing wrong. Now I am racking my brains out to remember what I did right! Our girls are seasonal breeders and our main lambing starts in July. Our feed here has always dried off by first week in October and they are weaned onto extra feed to get them up to weight. Looking at the rams in the paddock now it seems they may be keeping it on. Will know later when we weigh and shear them in January. I will keep you up to date.

We used one brought in ram - this was his second mating and he was two and half years old and the others were our own bred all three and a half years old. There is nothing to suggest they would breed exceptional animals. They are all just normal looking rams.

re ewe/ram ratio - Yes the ewes were in top condition and on the feed above before and during mating, My neighbour had the same comments as to the male sperm being slower and female stronger and hangs around a lot longer.
We did have some very hot days during the mating period. Could this have influenced the outcome?
Could the clovers in the meadow hay have affected the estrogen in the ewes? Could this affect the e/r ratio
Is the ewe/ram ratio and the higher weights somehow connected? The ewe lamb weights did not seem higher than the ram lambs.
 
re weights of lambs - one thing that was different was that we had fed out meadow hay and trit and whatever we could find during the drought and mating. Normally we never feed out meadow hay or trit - it just happened to be all we could get in the drought. The price of hay and grains went up by 150%!! and that was if you could find it

When it did rain, which from memory was April/May (our autumn), we had a lot of grasses etc come up that I could not recognise but also lots and lots of clovers. In fact so much clover that we commented on the fact that feeding meadow hay obviously had a lot of side benefits. So the lambs were born onto good feed with the grasses and clovers.

We have never had weights on our lambs like that before. I wish we did. Usually I am racking my brains trying to work out what I am doing wrong. Now I am racking my brains out to remember what I did right! Our girls are seasonal breeders and our main lambing starts in July. Our feed here has always dried off by first week in October and they are weaned onto extra feed to get them up to weight. Looking at the rams in the paddock now it seems they may be keeping it on. Will know later when we weigh and shear them in January. I will keep you up to date.

We used one brought in ram - this was his second mating and he was two and half years old and the others were our own bred all three and a half years old. There is nothing to suggest they would breed exceptional animals. They are all just normal looking rams.

re ewe/ram ratio - Yes the ewes were in top condition and on the feed above before and during mating, My neighbour had the same comments as to the male sperm being slower and female stronger and hangs around a lot longer.
We did have some very hot days during the mating period. Could this have influenced the outcome?
Could the clovers in the meadow hay have affected the estrogen in the ewes? Could this affect the e/r ratio
Is the ewe/ram ratio and the higher weights somehow connected? The ewe lamb weights did not seem higher than the ram lambs.
How heavy are the ewes? It just seems odd if I’m honest. 76kg lambs in 13wks... if mature weights aren’t much more than that then you have found the ultimate curve benders (if what you say isn’t exaggerated).

You are asking how it is possible to obtain 800g/day from your hay and clover mix and I seriously don’t know as I’ve never met anybody who can do it. Even on Ramcompare the first lamb was slaughtered at 56 days old and it was 40kg.... that was 696g/day on Clover leys and reared from Lleyn ewes.
 

jonty1

Member
Livestock Farmer
I would love to get 76kg lambs in 13 weeks too. You quote 56 day old lamb at 40kg - that is only 8 weeks old - I could live with that.

Ours - the heavier ones - just 6 - were our earliest ones and singles - around 18 weeks or almost 5 months old. The others seem to be an even spread between 40 - 60kg. Even this is good for us. We would normally be happy with a 40kg lamb at weaning and count 50kg a very good result. It would be rare for us to get a 60kg at weaning. That is why this past year is so odd. We will probably come down to earth with a thump this year! We will see because we will be using the same ewes and rams.

Condition of ewes - because of the drought and we knew we were going to have to hand feed we culled our ewes very heavy. We normally breed around 200 - 220. This year we bred 150. They are White Suffolk and a fair size. They were in first class condition when put in for mating. I have not weighed them since they were 12 mo. 30 were maidens. I know some of the maidens did not lamb but I need to check the records to see how they did ratio wise.
 

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138: Special episode: Covid-19 impact on the Potato sector

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In this special issue of the Potatoes Podcast we will discuss the impact of Coronavirus on the Potato Markets. A fresh update on how Covid-19 has resulted in an increased demand on the retail market, while the chipping market has suffered the hardest hit. The uncertainty of the current situation will force businesses to...
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