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ANNUAL ram pre-breeding soundness examinations (PBSEs) are accepted as an integral component of veterinary flock health planning to identify rams not capable of achieving high conception rates. This preliminary study collected information as to current practice on commercial farms with the aim of contributing to the development of ‘best practice’ guidelines (Anon 2014).
Records were collected from 280 rams presented for routine PBSE in autumn 2013 to five first-opinion veterinarians, one in the southwest of England and four from one practice in northeast England. The study population consisted of all rams on 20 farms and only newly purchased rams on four farms. In accordance with usual practice, each ram was physically examined, external genitalia were palpated and semen was collected by electro-ejaculation on up to two separate occasions. Findings were recorded on standard data collection forms. Maximum scrotal circumference (SC) was measured in centimetres using a tensioned tape measure (Reliabull; Lane).
The vets in the northeast worked alone, using a Lane electro-ejaculator and bright field microscopy with a green filter and low condenser and the vet in the southwest used a technician to handle the semen, a Medata electro-ejaculator and a phase-contrast microscope. All glass equipment were warmed to 30–37°C, the microscope stage to 35–37°C and the sample volume was measured to the nearest 0.2 ml. The semen sample was assessed for gross density, on a scale of 1 (water) to 5 …