Sheep Breeding Management Guide

Table of Contents

Sheep Breeding Management Guide:

Introduction to Sheep Breeding Management Practices:- Commercial sheep farmers should have basic idea of sheep breeding information. Knowledge, skill and efforts ensure success in sheep farming business. The following write-up details about sheep breeding practices, methods of mating and reproduction parameters.

Sheep Breeding Management.
Sheep Breeding Management.
  • Sheep Breeding Management Practices #1: The ideal male sheep and female sheep ratio should be 1:20.
  • Sheep Breeding Management Practices #2: For better mating chances, young male sheep (rams) should be put in to experienced older ewes (female sheep) flock and older rams (male sheep) to younger ewes (female sheep).
  • Sheep Breeding Management Practices #3: It is advised to avoid Inbreeding (Inbreeding is mating or breeding of individuals that are closely related genetically).
  • Sheep Breeding Management Practices #4: The male sheep (rams) should be replaced or exchanged once in 2 years to avoid inbreeding.
  • Sheep Breeding Management Practices #5: Breeding ewe (female sheep) of indigenous breeds should be 20 to 24 months depending on body condition.
  • Sheep Breeding Management Practices #6: Avoid breeding ewes at younger age as it results in higher mortality rate.
  • Sheep Breeding Management Practices #7: Make sure the body weight of female sheep (ewe) at breeding time should be less than the adult body weight of that breed.
  • Sheep Breeding Management Practices #8: All female goats which are above 1 year age should be done with oestrous detection either with approned or vasectomized male (buck) both in morning or evening during breeding season.
  • Sheep Breeding Management Practices #9: In India, generally the normal breeding season starts from September to October, February to March and May to June.
  • Sheep Breeding Management Practices #10: For better breeding chances, it is better to have male sheep may be in a partitioned corral net so that the female and male have full view of each other. This can be done for a week before or during the breeding season.
  • Sheep Breeding Management Practices #11: For higher conception rate (85 to 90%) in female sheep can be ensured if one male sheep with one female sheep or 2 to 3 female sheep in heat should be  allowed to remain together for a whole day or whole night.
  • Sheep Breeding Management Practices #12: If 2 services at an interval of 8 to 10 hours are practiced, improvement in conception rate can be achieved.
  • Sheep Breeding Management Practices #13: Sheep which do not return to oestrus after 2 cycles should be considered as pregnant sheep and should be separated from the dry, non-pregnant sheep flock. They should be kept in a group of not more than 15 to 20 female sheep to avoid infighting.
  • Sheep Breeding Management Practices #14: If the sheep have no kidding for complete one year, don’t keep them in house /flock and it is better to sell for meat purpose.
  • Sheep Breeding Management Practices #15: Try to avoid kidding during the peak winter season to save the sheep kids from pneumonic death during winter.
  • Sheep Breeding Management Practices #16: It is must to avoid starvation of any sheep during early pregnancy period as it can cause a high percentage of shed embryos to be absorbed

Reproductive parameters in Sheep Breeding Management:-

  • Reproductive parameter #1:Breeding age : 6-9 months
  • Reproductive parameter #2: Comes to heat after lambing – 21- 22 days after.
  • Reproductive parameters #3: Length of pregnancy – 145 to 160 days.
  • Reproductive parameters #4: Male sheep and female sheep ratio should be – 1:20
  • Reproductive parameters #5: Estrous period should be repeated every 15-18 days on average.
  • Reproductive parameters #6: Estrous period is 19-21 days in male sheep and the estrous period lasts for about 24 to 36 hours in female sheep (ewes) and 34 to 38 hours in female sheep..

Estrous signs:

  • The estrous signs normally exhibited by female animals in estrus period are;
  • Estrous signs #1: Redding of the vulva and discharge from vulva.
  • Estrous signs #2: Tail wagging.
  • Estrous signs #3: Mounting other animal.
  • Estrous signs #4: Seeking male.
  • Estrous signs #5: Frequent bleating.
  • Estrous signs #6: Push her back.
  • Estrous signs #7: Standing for mating.

How to Identify Sheep in Heat:-

  1. Using an Intact Male:
  • The male should be allowed in the flock to identify the oestrous animals and there is a chance the male sheep will mate the female sheep if it is not controlled properly.
  1. Use of Intact Male Fitted with Aprons:
  • An apron should be tied on the abdomen of the male sheep to cover the genetics.
  • The apron is made of a soft piece of cloth measuring 60 cm x 45 cm with strings on four sides to tie it properly. This is used to prevent mating and the apron should be washed daily and checked for holes to avoid unwanted mating.
  • Inflammation, irritation and infection can occur on private area, resulting in inhibited desire and mounting behaviour.
  • The male sheep should be apronized and allowed in to the flock for identification of animals in the morning and evening of the day for about 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Teasure male sheep detects the females in heat, which are marked and separated out for breeding with desired male sheep.
  1. Vasactamised Male Sheep:
  • Vasectomised male sheep can be prepared by doing surgical intervention.
  • An intact male sheep should be let in to the flock. The male sheep will follow female sheep in estrous.

Methods of Mating in Sheep Breeding Management:-

  1. Hand Mating:
  • In this system the female sheep are allowed to mate one by one.
  • In this system a male sheep are not allowed to mate more than three females in a day.
Sheep Breeding.
Sheep Breeding.

Advantages of Hand Mating:

  • This hand mating method ensures the expected time of lambing.
  • This method allows the sheep farmer to know that the sheep has actually bred.
  • This method of mating reduces the risk of injuries to the sheep.
  • This method of mating is beneficial when mating older male sheep with a younger female sheep.
  • This method of mating improves the breeding efficiency of male, resulting in an increased number of females that can be bred in shorter duration.
  1. Pen Mating:
  • In this mating method, female sheep should be divided into batches varying from 20 to 30females/males.
  • In this mating method, males should be introduced in to the flock only during the night time and separated during day time.

Advantages of Pen Mating:

  • This method of mating prevents the disturbances to the female sheep by the male during grazing period.
  • This system also provides male sheep with enough rest.
  1. Flock Mating / Pasture Mating:
  • In this system males are allowed to run along with the females throughout the day and  night.
  • The ram may lose its most of its body reserves in chasing the ewes and they may lose their body conditions.

Disadvantages of Flock Mating:

  • In this system of mating, the male sheep sometimes may develop attraction for particular female in heat and serve it a number of times while other males/females remain unattended resulting in low fertility rate.
  • In this method, the male sheep some time exhaust  themselves overnight by serving more than a dozen times and the last served female/male sheep (ewes or does) not receive optimum number of spermatozoa and remain un-conceived in the flock.
  1. Artificial Insemination:
  • This method offers the best means of distributing germplasm.
  • In this method, fresh as well as frozen semen may be used for breeding.
  • The speculum method of insemination is used for female sheep.
  • Generally artificial insemination leads to lower conception rate when compared to natural mating, which is about 45%.
  • In this system, cervical insemination is followed for better conception rate in sheep farming.

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