By Kirsten Williams, snr beef and sheep consultant at SAC Consulting

You have made your selection, bid successfully and now have a new tup at home, but the next steps are just as important...

Check what routine flock treatments the tup has had prior to purchase, for example: clostridial vaccinations. It is also worth checking what feeding he has been on, as it will take a few weeks for the rumen bugs to adjust to a new diet, a transition period is key.

Ensure he is purchased in plenty of time for quarantine treatments – this will also allow him to recover from the stress of the sale, new diet, new environment, and so on.

A tup MOT should be performed on all newly purchased and current stock tups. This is important in ensuring each tup is fit, healthy and fertile, so they can serve ewes and leave a good lamb crop. A good tup MOT detects 90% of problems, checking health and condition at least eight weeks pre-tupping gives time to make any management changes or treatments to ensure they are in the best condition for tupping.

It takes six weeks for spermatozoa to mature so clearing any problems such as a lame foot or a bad infection in a head wound needs time. If tups are not working to their full potential, it can result in a reduced lamb crop and a longer lambing period, ultimately affecting farm profitability.

The tups’ condition should be monitored. As a tup can lose up to 15% of his body weight during mating, it’s essential he has good reserves prior to tupping at condition score 3.5-4. To build condition pre-tupping, concentrate feeding may be required if high quality grass is not available. This will increase energy, allow for testicular growth and ensure a good level of semen production. Aim for a concentrate of 12.5MJ ME/kg DM and 180-200g/kg DM, avoid high levels of magnesium.

Other checks include checking his teeth, ensuring there are no painful sores on his brisket, making sure his feet are sound (lameness can be a large cause of reduced fertility) and checking his prepuce, penis and scrotum.

Testicles should be firm but springy, equal, and freely moveable. Asses the size of the testicles, checking they are not small, hard or enlarged. The epididymis, located at the bottom of each testicle, should be equal in size and smooth. Scrotal circumference is measured using both testicles at the widest area, the table below shows a guide for lowland and hill breeds.

Mature Shearling rams Tup lambs

Lowland breeds 36-38cm 32-34cm 30cm

Hill breeds 34-36cm 30-32cm 28cm

This article has been produced through Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service (FAS) which is part of the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) which is co-funded by the EU and Scottish Government