I could not find a pasture based test anywhere, so I finally began to run my own test at Fairmeadow Farm. There are no figures available, so two other breeders send me some rams and we run the test with assorted genetics trying to come up with "average." 2008 will be the third year with blended herds in these tests.
In 2006 a good pasture year, over 1/2 the rams gained 25 pounds in 12 weeks. In 2007 the grass was like lettuce soup from way too much rain and 20 pounds in 12 weeks was very difficult.
The Ram Test begins in June when the rain, grass and summer parasite
storm begins and runs for 12 weeks on all they can eat Bahaia pasture.
We keep detailed records.
Day 1 – Weight the 40 plus rams.
Famacha score and worm any that are -3
Sort in 50-60 pound, 60-70 pound and 70-80 pound groups
Total each groups weight and figure 1% of their body weight daily
in grain to even out the good grass/poor grass effect and to get
them tame enough to handle without stress. (A 1000 pounds of lamb
would get 10 pounds of grain.)
Once a week – We check the Famacha scores and worm
any that are -3
Once a month – We weigh and re-figure the grain
At 12 weeks – We weigh and figure how much gained.
Famacha Score: Rams that stayed 1 & 2 without
worming are preferred. I might forgive a ram wormed once if he is
Ultrasound rib eyes: This is slowest and most
difficult to improve, so I give it extra consideration.
Fat is not a problem on grass-fed lambs. They will be lean.
Finally, I have the DNA test done on the better rams. I
have RRAA rams in all three breeds.
I do not make a decision on any one character. We use the best rams
on our own ewes the next breeding season.