2002 Ram Test Begins

The Colorado Ram Test Association will begin its annual ram-performance test in Fort Collins next month. The test, which has been held for 23 years, identifies genetically superior ram lambs and promotes their use in sheep breeding programs.

The test will be at the Colorado State University Sheep Research and Teaching Unite and is sponsored by Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, Colorado State Agricultural Experiment Station and the association.

"The amount a lamb weighs determines a sheep producer’s income," said Steve LeValley, Colorado State Cooperative Extension sheep and wool specialist and one of the test coordinators. "It’s also important to the producer’s bottom line that lambs grow rapidly. Those traits are generally genetic."

The test gives producers valuable breeding and selection information for lambs? projected growth, carcass and reproduction traits. It also is an opportunity to progeny test stud rams and still have lambs to sell.

Rams consigned to the first test must be born on or after Jan. 1. White-faced lambs must weigh a minimum of 60 pounds, and black-faced lambs must be at least 70 pounds.

Lambs must be delivered to the university’s sheep unit on May 24, and nomination forms for the test are due to the coordinators by May 10. After a 10-day adjustment period, ram lambs begin a 60-day test to identify genetically superior rams for average daily gain, total gain, weight per day of age and breeding soundness. University scientists will check rib-eye and fat thickness with ultrasound.

Ram lambs are fed a grower ration designed to express genetic differences in average daily gain without adding excessive condition to breeding rams.

The Colorado Ram Test provides 20-,40- and 60-day reports on average daily gain and weight per day of age.

Ram lambs that pass the structural and reproductive-soundness examinations and rank in the top two-thirds of the test for average daily weight gain are eligible for the annual Colorado Ram Test Association sale in September. Rib-eye thickness also will be reported. Ram lambs averaged $267 per head in the 2001 Colorado Ram Test Association sale.

Nomination forms should be sent to Steve LeValley, Colorado State University, Department of Animal Sciences, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1171. For a form or for more information, contact LeValley at (970) 491-1321.