It is advisable to do a physical check on rams before purchasing to avoid sourcing rams with any faults that may negatively affect future performance.

There are a few important areas to consider.


Firstly, rams should have good feet with no signs of lameness while rams that are poor on their feet and sitting back on their pasterns should be avoided. Ideally, rams should be in a good, fit condition and not overly fat with this unfortunately often hard to avoid.

Head and mouth

Rams should have a clean head with no cuts from fighting, while in terms of teeth you should run your finger along the ram’s teeth and gums to ensure that teeth close ok on the dental pad.

Care should also be taken to avoid rams that have undershot or overshot mouths.


While hard to identify, it is worth looking at the ram’s eyelids as there may be signs of scarring from corrective action being taken to treat entropion eye (turned in eyelids).


Not every breeder will like you turning up a ram but, where possible, it is important to check that a ram has two evenly sized testicles.

There should also be two evenly sized appendages called epididymis at the base of the scrotum. The other area to check is the penis for signs of injury or infection but this is likely to be more of an issue in older rams rather than ram lambs.

A video of how to carry out a ram NCT was carried out last year with Teagasc head of sheep programme, Michael Gottstein, and this can be viewed at and search for ‘preparing for breeding: how to carry out a ram NCT’.

Marketing store lambs

Throughput of store lambs has taken a significant jump in marts in recent weeks. Mart managers report massive variation in how lambs are being marketed, which they say is in turn having a big influence on bidding activity. The best demand is for lambs that are evenly matched on weight, size and type.

Trying to disguise a couple of lighter or plainer quality lambs into a group is something which is often done but this can turn some potential buyers off or knock a few euro off the potential sale value.

Where there are ewe lambs with breeding potential, it is worth segregating these, while applying EID tag sets on these animals is also a benefit in attracting more attention. The same can also be said of cull ewes with firm demand for both feeding and fleshed ewes.

Applying fertiliser

While ground conditions are tricky in some areas, applying fertiliser in mid-August will deliver a much greater response than delaying until early September when growth rates are already declining at a faster rate.

Highly stocked farms (10 ewes plus/ha) are applying 20 to 25 units after grazing while lower stocked farms are applying 10 to 15 units to keep grass growth rates ticking along.

At this stage of the year, it is important to take soil fertility levels into account and target compound fertilisers or slurry/farmyard manure to areas that will benefit most.

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