Hettinger Research Extension Center offers ram test

NDSU Extension
Farm Forum

Sheep producers will have an opportunity to measure their rams’ performance and wool traits during the 2017-18 Dakota Fall Ram Test program at North Dakota State University’s Hettinger Research Extension Center.

The test, which runs from Sept. 18 to March 10, 2018, will give producers information that can help them select high-performing rams for use in breeding programs, according to Christopher Schauer, center director.

Producers must deliver rams to the center between Sept. 4 and Sept. 17.

The fee is $250 per ram, which is due when the rams are delivered to the center. The fee covers the cost of feed, management, veterinary attention and wool testing. Producers will be charged an additional $16 per animal if they haven’t had the rams DNA tested. The rams will be shorn twice during the test, and the wool will be sold to help cover the shearing costs.

All rams must be accompanied by a completed entry form and health papers, and must come from a foot rot- and scrapie-free flock. Lambs more than 6 months old at the start of the test also must be tested for Brucella ovis (ELISA) or come from a certified B. Ovis-free flock. Each animal must have a federal identification tag in one of its ears, and the tag information must be listed in the animal’s health papers.

Rams will be vaccinated against enterotoxemia and sore mouth shortly after arriving at the center. All rams also will be drenched for internal parasites. Producers should indicate on their entry form if their rams have been vaccinated for these diseases or if they have been drenched. The rams will be tested for B. Ovis at the end of the performance test.

The rams will undergo their first shearing Sept. 18-25 and be weighed six times during a 140-day growth test period. They’ll also undergo tests to measure growth. Producers will receive information on measurements such as average daily gain, rib-eye area and fat thickness for each ram. The second shearing will be in February 2018 and the wool will be analyzed.

A field day and sale will be held at the Hettinger center on March 7, 2018, at 9 a.m. Mountain time.

“The field day and sale gives Rambouillet and Columbia sheep breeders an opportunity to access some of the top genetics in the country for these respective breeds,” Schauer says.

For more information about the test, contact Schauer at 701-567-4323 or