Last update: March 30, 2012 03:14:46 PM E-mail Print




EM van Tonder



It is disconcerting that many farmers continue to ignore the importance of a thorough examination for genital soundness when buying rams, says Dr Marius van Tonder, Head of the Regional Veterinary Laboratory at Middelburg Cape.

All too often rams are brought to the Veterinary Laboratory for confirmation of genital unsoundness suspected by the new owner after closer inspection, he says. Problems arise if this occurs, as it regularly does, some time after the animals have been paid for and introduced into their new environments.

This state of affairs inevitably leads to unnecessary disputes as to whether a particular abnormality was sustained at the place of origin or at the destination.

Dr Van Tonder says that, since the course of development of the majority of these genital conditions is not confined to a definite period of time, it is often very difficult to pass a verdict, which in turn adds to the frustration and disappointment of the buyer.

This unnecessary situation can so easily be avoided, he says, if, on the one hand, breeders have their sale rams certified as genitally sound before they are put up for sale or, on the other hand, if buyers will demand a certificate to that effect before finalising the deal.

Buyers are often inclined to overconcentrate on conformation and fleece properties of rams, without even a cursory glance at the external genital organs. Although a close inspection by the buyer himself will serve the purpose of identifying the more obvious defects, this will in many instances, however, not suffice in detecting the more subtle causes of unsoundness. Apart from those cases in which abnormalities are discovered in time, there is also a certain percentage of rams suffering from defects which are not easily discernible and which will be the cause of a varying degree of reproduction losses. The expenses incurred in acquiring the judgement of a veterinarian in this respect will therefore undoubtedly be warranted, he says.



During such an examination, Dr Van Tonder pointed out, the veterinarian will not only assess the potential fertility of the animal by its semen quality, but will also determine the presence or absence of genital infections and such physical features as can hamper natural mating. A certificate of genital soundness will therefore not only be an assurance of the potential fertility and reproductive ability of a ram, but will also be a safeguard to the buyer against the introduction into and spread of venereal infections within the flock.

It should be obvious, Dr Van Tonder went on, that the value of a breeding animal is mainly determined by its reproductive potential and that animals suffering from genital defects rendering them infertile or even partially infertile are hardly worth more than their slaughter weight.



Karoo Regional Newsletter, Autumn