Resistant Rams in Demand
The ram test at Virginia Tech's Southwest Agricultural Research & Education Center (in Glade Spring) offers one of the few opportunities to buy rams with objective data on parasite resistance. In addition to being evaluated for parasite resistance in the test, a portion of the rams come from NSIP flocks and have EBVs for parasite resistance.
Since 2012, the Virginia Ram Test has evaluated over 800 ram lambs. One hundred and seventy-seven (177) of the top-performing rams have been marketed and some of their progeny have come back to the test for evaluation. The rams have sold into fifteen states.
At this year's sale on September 21st, thirty-six (36) rams sold for an average price of $1665. Prices ranged from $500 to $7000. One hundred and twenty-three (123), mostly Katahdin rams, had begun the test on May 29.
Test protocol After a 3-week acclimation period, rams are given an oral dose of Haemonchus contortus worm larvae (5000 L3). While on test, they are grazed on fescue paddocks and fed a concentrate diet at a rate of 2-3% of their body weight. Every two weeks, the rams are evaluated for ADG, FAMACHA©, and FEC.
At the end of the test, scrotal circumference, backfat and rib eye area are determined. The rams undergo a breeding soundness exam. Rams are selected for the sale based on their performance. Consigners are limited to having two rams in the sale. A field day is held in conjunction with the test.