A growing number of producers across the Central West have opted to use vasectomised rams as teasers to tighten joining and lambing periods and achieve a more consistent reproductive rate.
While testosterone-treated wethers have traditionally been the teaser of choice, the convenient and cost effective benefits associated with vasectomised rams have contributed to their recent popularity.
Also known as the ram effect, teasers are used during out of season joining to stimulate ewes to commence their cycle.
Jenny and Craig Bradley, of New Armatree Border Leicesters, Armatree, have recently jumped aboard the vasectomised ram teaser train and have seen great results.
Mrs Bradley said New Armatree used wether teasers previously but despite the benefits, their inconvenience resulted in their short-term use.
"The vets have to come out to view the wethers and apply drugs using a specified time frame, they can't run with the rams and we can't sell them into the food chain afterwards," she said.
"However with the vasectomised rams it is one upfront cost, they can run with our ram team and not be bullied but more importantly when we're finished with them they can still be sold at the sale yards."
This year New Armatree used nine teaser rams across 430 commercial maiden Merino ewes.
"We put the teasers in with the maiden Merino ewes two weeks prior to the rams before pulling them out and putting the ram team straight in," Mrs Bradley said.
"We had a really high conception rate percentage with majority of our ewes scanning in lamb in the first three weeks of the five week joining period."
Kerin Poll Merino stud manager Brett Kerin, Yeoval, has used vasectomised rams as teasers for three years.
"By using vasectomised rams I don't have to worry about injecting the wethers," he said.
"I also believe the rams do a better job of teaching maiden ewes to stand for service than a wether.
"When joining ewe lambs it is very important to have the ram smell and I don't think you can replicate the smell of a ram artificially using a wether."
Mr Kerin has seen a tighter lambing period in his flock since using vasectomised rams.
"With a condensed or tighter lambing period you can wean earlier which is important, especially in these less favourable conditions," he said.
"I have vasectomised 150 rams this year for clients or people if they choose to buy them but I use about 50 a year myself on about 3300 ewes."
For Flocks Sake veterinarian Tim Gole, Dubbo, said vasectomised rams helped producers optimise joining.
"For people joining out of season, there can be groups of ewes in seasonal anestrus meaning ewes can vary in cyclical behaviour, particularly for British breeds," he said.
"If producers don't use teasers during this period some ewes will have a silent heat resulting in low conception rates.
"In the advent of the whole industry moving towards joining ewe lambs, teasers can help induce sexual maturity.
"It also helps with artificial insemination programs and tightening lambing periods."
Dr Gole said clients from the Riverina to the Central West were starting to use vasectomised rams.
"I've had stud clients start to provide vasectomised rams to clients as they can utilise their cull rams and offer that service to people who might not have the infrastructure, time or local expertise to get it done," he said.
"The rams are young when they undergo the surgical procedure so it is quite easy as we use a sedative, pain relief and local anaesthetic. Wethers are injected with testosterone, an off-label steroid, each year, so they are not permitted to enter the human food chain.
"It makes sense to use vasectomised rams as they can be used for their natural life then sold into the meat works.
"We want to make things easier for producers, and I believe vasectomised teaser rams fit into that equation."
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