In the absence of breeding values and data in the form of farm records, visual selection remains the only method for selecting breeding bucks. It is a popular saying that a breeding male is ‘half the herd’. The genetic improvement in any herd or flock depends upon the kind of male you select and in light of which, the following tips can help you in choosing the right breeding male for your flock. Before reading the article, let us understand the terms buck and ram.
A ‘buck’ is intact adult male goat.
A ‘ram’ is intact adult male sheep, sometimes also called as ‘tup’.
Tips for selecting breeding bucks and rams
- The buck/ram should be big, well-developed with broad back, good length and depth of the body, good rib cage and muscular hind and forequarters with good conformation.
- The health of the breeding animal is of prime importance. The breeding male should not show any symptoms of disease. Animals with bad breath should not be selected as they may have problem in teeth which may later reflect in their libido.
- The buck/ram with 1 to 2 years of age should be selected for breeding. The age of the breeding male can be determined by examining the teeth. The buck/ram with central pair of permanent incisors signifies that the animal’s age is one year. If there will be two pairs of incisors, it signifies that animal’s age is two years.
- Both the testes should be present with no pathological changes. Although, the cryptorchid buck/ram with single testes can also mate but always select an animal with both the testes descended in the scrotum. Well placed epididymis on the ventral aspect of testes with no pathological changes confirms normal physiology of reproduction.
- The testicles should have a firm consistency, elasticity at palpation, good mobility in the scrotal sac, and be oval-shaped. Adult bucks should present a scrotal circumference of 25 cm in average and it should be 30 cm for rams.
- Check the body weight of the breeding male. Buck/ram with more than 30kg body weight should be selected for mating. In any case the animal should not be less than 25kg.
- The chest girth of the buck/ram should be optimum. The chest should not be narrow. During mating, the chest rest on the female which provides male with a stable posture during mating.
- The legs of the buck/ram should be long but it should be taken care that the body should not be narrow. Long legs help in mounting and better gripping of female. Further, the legs should be set under the body and not out at sides.
- The breed characters should be checked before putting the buck/ram for mating. A breeder must have the knowledge of characteristic breed characters and it is advisable to put pure bred bucks/rams for mating. Cross breeding can be done for improving the non-descript livestock.
- The hooves of the animal should be checked for any pathological change. Bucks/rams with perfectly placed hooves with intact hoof walls should be selected for mating. The toes should face forward and should not be splitted.
- The gait of the buck/ram should also be observed along with the response to stimuli. Always select active and alert males for mating. Limb deformities, laminitis, arthritis, etc. leads to loss of libido and animals do not mate readily.
- A buck/ram must be dominant and display mating behavior, including a good libido or sexual interest throughout the breeding season in the presence of a doe/ewe in heat to effectively present a good serving capacity.
- Bucks/rams must not present abnormality of the mouth such as an undershot or overshot jaw. The length of the upper and lower jaw should be equal, with the lower teeth touching the superior dental pad. Mouth malformation will provoke bad bites. Buck/ram will not be able to eat efficiently and this trait can be transmitted to the offspring.
- In case of rams selected for wool production, rams that have excessive wrinkles should not be selected for breeding. White-wooled sheep should be free from colored fibers. Fleeces should be dense and free from kemp and medulated fibers.
- Buck/ram should not be kept for breeding for more than 3 years and replace the buck before 3 years, so that inbreeding can be prevented.
- The maximum age limit for breeding buck/ram is 8 years approximately and it should be culled thereafter.
General Management Tips
- Always remove the excess wool or hairs from the body of breeding animal for efficient breeding.
- Put breeding animal for breeding at more than 1.5 years of age. Extra allowance of 100 to 200 gram of grains should be fed to breeding animals.
- The feeding for breeding should commence 2 weeks prior to mating till the end of breeding season.
- The grains should be fed gradually to the animals as sudden ingestion of grains in high quantities may be lead to bloat and acidosis.
- Regularly deworm your animals and provide them with mineral mixture for efficient breeding.
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