Semen is collected from rams either by electro-ejaculation or by having the ram mount a teaser ewe and ejaculate into an artificial vagina.
Electro-ejaculation is a rather unpleasant procedure and is reserved for very difficult or ill rams. As well, the semen sample collected this way is not usually "as good" for freezing as it is from a more natural collection. Still, almost all rams can be collected this way if necessary.
The preferred method of collection is to use a teaser ewe and artificial vagina. Most mature and experienced rams will mount a teaser ewe held in a head gate. Many of these will also allow their penis to be diverted into a properly prepared artificial vagina (AV). However, some will not mount or not allow the AV to be used. Most of these are young or inexperienced rams or rams with behavioral problems such as uncontrolled aggression or fear of people or handling.
Training uncooperative rams can take a considerable amount of time and adds expense to semen freezing. Owners can help reduce costs by training rams at home.
Rams to be used for semen collection should be people-friendly and should have been handled with a halter. Rams easily frightened or aggressive to people will be difficult to work with and may never be useable for semen collection and freezing.
Rams should pen-breed a few ewes in estrus.
The ram should be taken to the ewe. Ewes can be in natural heat or brought into estrus using progesterone pessaries and PMSG. Ewes given estrogen hormone will also work. Estradiol cypionate (ECP - Upjohn Co.), 2.5 mg given into the muscle once weekly for three weeks, will keep a ewe in heat (not normally a fertile heat) for about 5 weeks. This ewe could be used during the entire training period.
The ram should then breed with the ewe tethered or in a head gate.
The ram should then breed with the owner standing at the right side of the ewe and with the left side of the ewe and ram against a wall or gate.
Finally, the ram should be willing to mount and breed with the owner kneeling at the right side of the ram with a hand gently rubbing his underbelly. Once a ram allows step 4, it should be repeated as many times as possible until he is completely at ease.
Your ram should now permit semen to be collected into an AV and in a strange environment.