14. Join the ewes according to known best practices
- Buy replacement rams early. Allow at least two months for the rams to acclimatise and a longer period where the rams come from cooler to hotter environments.
- Join rams in 3 to 4 months of wool.
- Keep the rams in good condition but not too fat in the pre-joining period.
- Check the testes, feet, teeth and presence of any disease or deficiency.
- Vaccinate annually, drench and provide Vitamin A pre-joining (if needed).
Joining the rams with the ewes
- Attempt to optimise the weight and fat score of the ewes at joining. Below 40 to 45 Kg the percentage of dry ewes will increase. Above this weight, the percentage of dry ewes remains static and the percentage of twins increases.
- Responses are variable but joining performance will improve where the ewes are "flushed" pre joining. Pre-joining shearing will increase the feed intake of the shorn ewes and will act as a "flush".
- Where increased numbers of lambs is the only consideration, the best time to join is from March to May and the worst time is late winter/early spring.
- The formula for choosing the correct ram percentage is 1 percent plus 1 plus. Use 3 rams with 200 ewes, 6 rams with 500 ewes. If joining circumstances are less than ideal use extra rams, 1 ram for each additional problem factor. In large paddocks, use 6 + 1 rams with 500 ewes. In very large paddocks use 6+1+1 rams with 500 ewes. Use 2 to 3 rams per 100 maiden ewes (5 rams with 200 maidens).
- Join a mixture of old and young rams at a ratio of 2:1 (ensure the older rams are free of brucellosis).
- Use "teaser rams" to obtain the "ram effect". The ram effect can induce sexual activity in non-active ewes, provide an earlier and more compact lambing and may induce earlier mating in lactating ewes.
- If using young "untried" rams, observe their behaviour for a period of time at the start of joining to determine whether or not they are showing normal sexual activity.