Most of the year, we think about the ewes–are they eating enough? are they pregnant? did they lamb? did they have twins? did they elude the coyotes and bears?
Of course, in order to have those little lambs hit the ground in May and June, we need to have dads. In the livestock world, dads (be they bucks, bulls, or stallions) count too, and we want them to be the best most productive sires we can find. And, since it costs money and opportunity to support them for most of the year (well, actually, for all of the year, but they only work for a couple of months), we want to make sure they are the optimal sort of dad.
Who you gonna call? Optimal Livestock Services of course! Each fall, retired Colorado State University vet Dr. Cleon Kimberling, and his partner and sidekick Vet Tech Geri Parsons travel throughout the Rockies to test rams. They check rams for fertility, disease, and other factors, such as age and condition, that can influence their ability to breed ewes.
Dr. Kimberling mans a traveling lab, where he examines sperm samples from rams. Geri, with help from our crew, collects the samples in test tubes, records information about each individual, and gives all the info to Cleon, who studies and collates it. At the end of the process, we growers are given a computer printout that rates each ram according to fertility, health, age, and other variables.
We then mark the rams who fail to make the grade. They get a truck ride which ends in a vacation in Mexico. I’ve never asked Dr. Kimberling what happened to his vet students who failed to make the grade.