On September 22, 2017, thirty-nine rams from the Southwest AREC Ram Test in Virginia were auctioned off to eager bidders. One hundred and ten rams originating from twenty-six flocks in nine states were delivered to the test site on May 30. Thirty-nine top-performers were selected for the auction. They represented the top 60 percent in performance. Consigners were limited to selling two rams. The vast majority of the rams were Katahdin. A few Texel crosses made the sale.
The thirty-nine rams grossed $47,800. Prices ranged from $400 to $3400. The average price was $1226. The mean was $1000. The top-indexing ram sold for $2200. The high-selling ram brought $3400. Fourteen of the rams sold, including the top-performing ram, also had EBVs (estimated breeding values) for worm egg counts. These rams ranged in price from $600 to $2200. They sold for an average price of $1278. The median price was $1350.
Following a three week adjustment period, the rams were evaluated for growth and parasite resistance over a 70-day period. They grazed fescue paddocks and received supplemental feed (76% TDN, 18% CP) at a rate of approximately 3 percent of their body weight. At the start of the test, the rams received an oral dose of 5000 3rd stage Haemonchus contortus. Body weights and FAMACHA© scores were determined biweekly. Fecal samples were collected every 14 days. The rams were scanned at the end of the test to determine fat thickness and eye muscle depth. An index, based on a combination of traits, was used to identify top performers and determine the sale order.
The Southwest AREC Ram Test is conducted annually at Virginia Tech's Southwest Ag Research & Extension Center in Glade Spring, Virginia. The first test was conducted in 2012. For more information about the test, contact Lee Wright at (276) 944-2200 or Dr. Scott Greiner at (540) 231-9159.
The Southeast AREC Ram Test is the only ram performance test that evaluates rams for parasite resistance . For 11 years, the Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test evaluated meat goat bucks for parasite resistance (natural infection). Eastern Oklahoma State College conducts an annual buck test in which fecal egg counts are used to determine performance rankings. So far, Katahdin and Polypay are the only breeds of sheep or goat (in the US) in which EBVs are calculated for parasite resistance (fecal egg counts).