Sheep producers encouraged to help understand ram effectiveness

The National Sheep Association (NSA) is urging sheep farmers to participate in a study to find out how effective rams are. 

This has been prompted by members of the NSA claiming that rams do not work on commercial farms. In response, the association is facilitating a group of experts to use Animal Welfare Foundation funding to investigate the flock life of breeding males and reasons for deaths and culling in the UK.

“It is important for the NSA to listen and respond to what our members are telling us, but with this particular situation the lack of information means we are unable to pinpoint on-farm solutions for them,” said NSA chief executive Phil Stocker. “That is why we thought it was so important to bring together a group of experts and get to the bottom of it – but we cannot do that without the help of farmers to find out exactly what is happening on-farm.”

The survey is just one part of the ram longevity project, that can be found at

“While there is plenty of opinion on how long rams should and do last in commercial flocks, there is no actual data available,” added independent sheep consultant Lesley Stubbings, who is involved in the project.

“Estimates of cost range from £1/lamb sired to more than £7, but we want to find out what is going on on-farm with the long-term aim of increasing the number of lambs each ram sires in its lifetime and, therefore, reducing the cost. To help us find out more, we urge sheep farmers to complete a quick survey about how long your rams last, on-farm management and the main problems encountered.”

Sheep farmers with 200 or more breeding ewes and four years of ram purchasing information are also being sought to take part in a series of one-off local focus groups to gather more detailed data. Volunteers can register interest by emailing

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