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Country: Spain

Dairy or/and meat sheep: Dairy and meat

Source of information: Bibliography, Technical Services and Neiker

Level of solution:






Just Being Tested


Aim: To select and prepare reproductive females and males


  • What is implemented;
    Adult males or females must have a good general condition (i.e. no lameness, mastitis or previous reproductive disorders) and body condition score (BCS=3 for males or ≥2.5 in females); otherwise, supplementary feeding before matings (flushing) is suggested.
  • How is implemented;

Males: Optimal age from 20-24 months to 7 years-old;

  • The reproductive organs (testicles, penis and foreskin) should be assessed:  no injuries, or signs of infections; The testicles should be firm, elastic and of good size (> 35 cm).
  • Any treatment (vaccination, deworming or shearing), before starting the mating season;
  • Balanced feeding, and mineral corrector with ammonium chloride in a 1.25-1.5% to avoid urolithiasis;
  • Ideally, take semen samples to assess in a laboratory the quality of the sperm.

Sheep: Optimal age from 7 months to 7 years-old;

  • At least 2-4 months after the last lambing.
  • Sheep should not be dried during the cycle previous or after the start of the matings.
  • Minimal BCS=2,5 and gaining weight at the matings.
  • Any treatment (vaccination, deworming or shearing), at least 3 weeks before or 3 weeks after starting the mating season;
  • When is it implemented.
    Rams: 2 months before the start of the mating season.
    Sheep: 1 month before the start of the mating season

Expected benefits: To decrease the number of non-productive sheep and to concentrate the lambings.

Prerequisites and/or limits (knowledge, training, capabilities, cost, management, facilities, equipment, etc.)

  • Availability of space to manage different batches of animals
  • Higher costs: feeding and labour
  • Education and training of technical services to collect sperm samples and to assess sperm quality analysis (spermiogram).
  • Equipment required: electroejaculators and microscope.


Specific publications

Matos, C. A. P., & Thomas, D. L. (1992). Physiology and genetics of testicular size in sheep: a review. Livestock Production Science, 32(1), 1–30.

Maina, D., & Katz, L. S. (1997). Exposure to a recently mated male increases ram sexual performance. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 51(1–2), 69–74.

Schmidov??, J., Milerski, M., Svit??kov??, A., & Vostr??, L. (2016). Effects of service ram on litter size in Romanov sheep. Small Ruminant Research, 141, 56–62.

Courot, M., & Volland-Nail, P. (1991). Management of reproduction in farm animals: Present and future. Biotechnology and Biotechnological Equipment, 5(3), 1–12.

Gouletsou, P. G., & Fthenakis, G. C. (2010). Clinical evaluation of reproductive ability of rams. Small Ruminant Research, 92(1–3), 45–51.

Van Metre, D. C., Rao, S., Kimberling, C. V., & Morley, P. S. (2012). Factors associated with failure in breeding soundness examination of Western USA rams. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 105(1–2), 118–126.

Scaramuzzi, R. J., Campbell, B. K., Downing, J. a, Kendall, N. R., Khalid, M., Muñoz-Gutiérrez, M., & Somchit, A. (2006). A review of the effects of supplementary nutrition in the ewe on the concentrations of reproductive and metabolic hormones and the mechanisms that regulate folliculogenesis and ovulation rate. Reproduction, Nutrition, Development, 46(4), 339–354.

Tips & Tricks

The ram effect

Smartphone recording tool

Ram’s foreskin crayon marking

Melatonin implants

Selecting for fertility, litter size and longevity in big unrecorded flocks

Selecting ewes for temperament

Measuring tape to assess the testicular perimeter of rams

Semen collection drawer

Use of technology for productivity

Expected impacts:

Benefit expected Increase productivity
better labor organisation
better feed management
Is the solution suitable for various production systems Y
If no – for which system The thresholds  for the BCS, depend on the aptitude of the breed, The selection of the rams requires education and training of personnel
What are the asset costs 100-500
What are the maintenance costs <50
Any limits to its applicability  
Work Load
  Farmers Service provider/tech.-vet-others
How much time is required to prepare and implement the solution <1 day <1 day
How many people is needed to implement the solution? 1 1
How long it takes to get results? >=1week
How long it takes to see  an effect on sheep productivity? current  production period
  Farmers Service provider/technicians-vet-others
What kind of equipment/tool are necessary?  chart,  leaflet, handling pens electroejaculators and microscope
Skill/Knowledge-Training (farmer)
Does the solution need any specific skill/knowledge or training? Yes, farmer and technicians
How much time will be required for training 1 day 
Wider Environment
Is there any particular regulation link to the solution? Sperm assessment needs specific training
Does the solution need any particular structure or organisation? No
Other Comments
cost of assessment around 10 €/ ram + training in BCS


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