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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everybody,
Does anybody know what could cause a ram to become infertile? The ram in question is four years old and has successfully bred my ewes since he was one year old. This year, however, my ewes did not become pregnant. I caught two that had returned into heat around mid December and the last possible date for my ewes to lamb was beginning of March. The ewes had been in with this ram from July to late October and, based on their past lambing dates, have always bred late September. Does anybody know what could have caused my ram to become infertile and if it, whatever it is, affects my ewes, too?
Thank you!
 

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I would suspect a urinary tract infection that caused some sort of blockage.
You could have a vet do a sperm count.

http://www.sheep101.info/201/ramrepro.html

"Epididymitis
Epididymitis due to Brucella ovis is a common cause of ram infertility, especially in rams in the western United States. The disease usually affects the tail of the epididymis (the bump at the bottom of the testicle) which becomes hardened and swollen. Transmission is from ram-to-ewe or ram-to-ram. Infected rams usually produce semen of lower quality, making them either sub-fertile or sterile, depending on the site and severity of the lesions.

Epididymitis can be diagnosed by scrotal palpation, blood test, or semen evaluation. There is a commercial vaccine for epididymitis. Its use is recommended if the risk of epididymitis is high."
 

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Or if you took him out in October, and it had been hot up till then, the heat can cut down on their fertility. He might not have had cool enough weather to build back up before he left town, so to speak,.
 

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As mentioned, disease or a stretch of unseasonably warm weather could be the culprit. Another ram can do it. Mineral imbalance could severely impact fertility, too. Medication could do it . It might not be the ram, if you have a small group of ewes of similar age being managed the same, especially if that management is nutrient dense. There is "flushing" and there is "too fat to breed".
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you all for your replies!
Bearfootfarm mentioned epididymitis which I have looked into a little bit more. Unfortunately, there is limited info on the internet and short of getting tests done I can't really know for certain. As it does not normally affect ewes (Except for sometimes causing abortion - which is not an issue as my sheep would need to be pregnant in the first place:() I'm keeping it in mind but otherwise not overly worrying about it.
Both Rosepath and barnbuilder mentioned heat but as our buckets were starting to freeze already in September I don't think it is the cause.
Barnbuilder also mentioned that it could possibly be my ewes. I have considered this quite a bit as I am planning on getting a new ram, for obvious reasons, and didn't want to find that it wasn't the right solution. My ewes (I only have 4) range between the age of 2-4 years of age and are not all the same breed but they had all had the same management during the breeding season. By same management I mean that they were in the same pasture with the same amount of exposure and availability to grass, water, and minerals but I never actually flushed them as they all had sound body conditions. At the moment I am ruling out my ewes because all of the did not become pregnant which makes it much more likely that it is the ram.
Thank you all for your thoughts. I am selling this ram for meat and hoping to have much better luck with the new ram I aquire. Lets hope I have some baby lambs next winter! :)
 
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