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Ram Test: UW Extension wraps up largest ram test to date at annual field day

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Sixty-four years ago, University of Wyoming (UW) Extension created a ram test in an effort to help producers improve flock genetics. Today, UW Extension continues to maintain this mission by holding an annual test and field day for producers in Wyoming and surrounding states. 

This year’s program wrapped up at the culminating field day event on April 1 in Laramie. 

“The field day was great this year,” commented UW Sheep Unit Manager Kalli Koepke. “The UW sheep team put on a fantastic educational program on the integration of technology with performance data and the National Sheep Improvement Program, a ram cost of production benchmarking study update and bent leg and ram test genomic research updates.” 

Koepke noted Extension personnel also provided ram test results and answered producer questions during the event. 

“Following the program, we proceeded with a silent auction and viewing of the rams,” she added. 

Large, successful test

This year’s test was the largest to date, featuring 142 rams from 29 different producers across Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota and Oregon. Four of the 29 producers were juniors, under the age of 18. 

Koepke explained the five-month test evaluates average daily gain; fleece data including grease fleece weight, clean fleece weight, staple length, micron and coefficient variable; carcass data including loin eye area and back fat; scrotal circumference and visual scores including face wool, belly wool and wrinkle.

“This year was exciting due to the fact we had more producers and more rams participate than ever before,” stated Koepke. “This gives us great hope for the future of the genetics in our region.”

“As always, when we have a test with commingling animals, we are bound to have some issues,” she continued. “I believe this year we were very fortunate in how healthy our rams were. We have worked really hard at finding better feed resources to help with the cost of the test and to keep the rams in good health.”

Ram test indexes

Koepke further explained UW uses two specific indexes for the test. 

“In the beginning, the first index – the ROM Index – was created by the Rambouillet Association. It is very specific to the Rambouillet breed and judges other breeds harshly,” she said. 

The second index, according to Koepke, is the Wyoming Index, which focuses on traits all breeds should strive to improve on.

“In addition to each index’s requirements, rams must have at least 0.55 pounds per day on test; produce a minimum of nine pounds of clean wool, with a minimum of four-inch staple and the wool must not be coarser then 60 – 24.9 microns – on the side or 56 – 27.84 microns – on the britch,” she explained. 

“When core samples are collected, instead of a side and britch sample, no skirting should be done, and the critical value is 23.77. The face covering must not exceed a score of 2.7, and the wrinkle score must not exceed a score of 2.5. All rams must be genotyped at Codon 171, with a result of QR or RR being required to certify,” she concluded. 

Hannah Bugas is the managing editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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